Official figures now show that the UK is experiencing net emigration to, not immigration from, the former A8 countries of Eastern Europe, as Mark Easton explores in his blog over at the BBC:
Armed with this information, what do you think the most immigration-obsessed newspapers did with it? Did they lead off on the net emigration to the former A8 countries?
Of course I wasn't expecting them to rejoice at the net emigration, or lead off on it at all; because that's not the point, and that's not what they're there to do. These stories are about seeing what you want to see, not what you don't want to see. I don't dispute the figures they're using, but it's a good example of cherry-picking what you want from a set of figures to find the thing which most represents your point of view.
So if there's news that more people are leaving than arriving, that's not good enough - find instead the scariest-sounding stats about people earning the right to citizenship, then dress it up with the most pejorative language you can dig up, calling it having passports 'handed out' - you know, like sweets. 'Handed out' is a classic misleading bit of journalese, and we've seen it before used in reference to allowing people access to certain recreational drugs in a controlled environment. How to make it scarily misleading? DRUGS HANDED OUT! Job done. The Mail adds a bit of spice to the mix by pearl-clutching about homes in the Southern heartland - horrors! Will they be building migrant hostels in Abinger Hammer?
The Express, meanwhile, just goes for a big scary number. If in doubt, big scary number. Wurrggh! Look at the hundreds of thousands of 'em! And, oh look, not quite the space there to mention the thousands who are emigrating... ah well. Maybe in tomorrow's paper...? Well I wouldn't hold my breath.
See what you want to see. If the whole picture isn't scary enough, then just use a snapshot of the scariest bit. It's not lying; it's just not quite the truth.
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