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‘Pure bias’ was NUM leader Arthur Scargill's description of television news bulletin's coverage of the 1984 miners' strike (Guardian, 28 August 1984, cited in Harrison, 1985, Introduction). Scargill's certainty in recognizing and denouncing media bias is typical of the term's more frequent usage in popular and public, rather than academic, discussions of the alleged distortions and misrepresentations in media content; especially news and current affairs.

The notion of bias is significant and enjoys affinities with the cognate concepts of objectivity, impartiality, balance and truth, but there is no reference to bias in the BBC's Producers' Guidelines which set out the ‘editorial and ethical principles that drive the BBC’ (BBC, 1994, Introduction). But in everyday use, bias implies that the ‘real world’ constitutes an objective reality ...

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