YouGov poll: Half say The Sun newspaper is bad for British society, just 5% think its influence is positive

From Stop Funding Hate: 50% of the British public believes that The Sun newspaper has a negative influence on our society, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by Stop Funding Hate. Just one in twenty people (5%) see the newspaper’s influence as positive.

The Yougov poll also reveals a striking, nationwide consensus: Across every British region, age group, and demographic polled, more people see The Sun’s influence as negative rather than positive. In the north of England, 53% expressed this view. Among young people aged 18-24, the figure was 57%. Figures for London reflected the national average.

The public’s faith in the Daily Mail is also low: As with the Sun, in every age group, demographic and region, more people see the Mail’s influence as negative rather than positive. Overall, more than one in three people (38%) believe that the paper has a negative influence. Only one in ten (10%) see the newspaper’s influence as positive. The poll shows a greater variance across different groups (for example 28% of people over 65 see the Daily Mail’s influence as negative, with 18% seeing it as positive). Meanwhile almost half of people aged 18-24 (48%) believe that the Daily Mail has a negative influence on society.

Research by the European Broadcasting Union has previously found that the UK press is the least trusted in Europe.

A study published in 2016 by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) found that the Sun and the Daily Mail had a “unique” hostility towards refugees and migrants, when compared to other media outlets across five European countries.

In a 2015 statement condemning a Sun article which compared African migrants to “cockroaches”, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, warned that:

“History has shown us time and again the dangers of demonizing foreigners and minorities, and it is extraordinary and deeply shameful to see these types of tactics being used in a variety of countries, simply because racism and xenophobia are so easy to arouse in order to win votes or sell newspapers.”

The same statement also name-checked the Daily Express.

Dr Kerry Moore of Cardiff University, co-author of the UNHCR report, said: “It’s not a surprise that the public recognise the negative influence of these titles. Research has repeatedly shown press coverage in The Sun, and the Daily Mail to be characterised by patterns of reporting that habitually represent minority ethnic and religious communities including asylum seekers and refugees in negative, stigmatising and inaccurate ways… News is powerful and over time can inform ideas that become entrenched as ‘common sense’. However, the campaigning agendas of these tabloids encourage unjust stereotypes, which can heighten social anxieties about cultural difference, demonising minority ethnic, religious and migrant groups and playing to the most deep seated fears and insecurities of our times.”

The Daily Express was regarded as negative by 28%, and seen as positive by 8% of respondents.

The public were more optimistic about the influence of broadsheet titles. The Financial Times had the highest net positive score: (25% positive, 7% negative, 36% neither), followed by The Times (27% positive, 10% negative,34% neither) the Guardian (28% positive, compared to 12% negative, 31% neither); and Telegraph (22% positive, 13% negative, 34% neither).

[Read full press release on Stop Funding Hate website…]