Britain’s Channel 4 News has come under fire throughout this past election season for slanting the news, taking clear sides and misrepresenting some of the issues. A source close to Channel 4 leaked some e-mails from concerned individuals, which revealed that Channel 4 viewers were not pleased with an obvious anti-Trump and pro-Clinton bias taken on by the media network.
After a post on Kotaku in Action pointed out the bias and slant at Channel 4, the sentiments about partisan reporting grew louder and more vociferous as the election season came to a head. Things really reached a tipping point when allegations about Russian hackers became the core narrative of mainstream media. The issue was made readily apparent in a November 1st, 2016 broadcast segment on Channel 4, which compiled various bits and pieces from other media outlets to formulate a narrative about the Russians hacking the United States Presidential election. You can view the piece below.
Given the nature of the piece and the lack of information and evidence presented therein, it was not surprising that the audience was not at all appreciative of the piece.
Many of the viewers were asking about the “evidence” referenced in Channel 4’s segment that linked the Russians to the site DNC Leaks, and to the alleged hacking of the elections. The network garnered a lot of heat for the fact that they stated that they had evidence linking DNC Leaks to the Russians, but only referred to a domain host name provider from out of Romania.
Channel 4 didn’t clarify the “evidence” in the piece, nor did they address the issue in the comment section. They also failed to mention that Wikileaks was responsible for the majority of the leaks and that it was not a hacker but an insider from the Democratic party, as reported by Heavy.com. Wikileaks has also repeatedly denied that the leaks were from Russian hackers.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 29, 2016
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 29, 2016
However, I did reach out to Channel 4 in regards to the perception of the news not being as forthcoming as viewers may have wanted, due to a lack of sourcing and details about some of the topic matters discussed therein. I did manage to get a response about the topic from Channel 4’s James Willis, working in the Viewer Enquiries department, where Willis stated…
“Channel 4 News reports on events from around the world and will use several different sources when creating a report on a particular topic. However, we would not hold information on the exact sources Channel 4 News would use when creating their reports.
“We feel that it is important to clarify that Channel 4 News is made for Channel 4 by ITN. They are asked not only to report on the day’s significant events but to provide analysis.”
After pawning the responsibility of fact checking and source information onto ITN — a separate entity that works with the Channel 4 News media empire — I decided to reach out to them to ask about the November 1st piece that ran on Channel 4, but to date ITN has not responded.
I was also informed by a separate party that another one of the sources used in the Channel 4 News piece to pinpoint the leaks on Russians came from CrowdStrike, which runs the threat analysis enterprise solution known as ThreatConnect. Daily Caller reported that CrowdStrike was hired by the Democratic National Committee to look into the matter involving the e-mail leaks that occurred earlier in 2016.
When queried about CrowdStrike and their potential use in the report about the Russian hackers in the Channel 4 news piece, Willis did not confirm nor deny them as a source.
It turns out that Channel 4 actually doesn’t interact directly with their audience members, though. Viewer inquiries are handled by Concentrix, who then relays the information to Channel 4 (or not).
What’s more is that Channel 4 doesn’t actually have an easy to access ethics policy either. The closest thing that Channel 4 has to an ethics policy regarding accountability, is a guide for how they handle online complaints and reviews on the Procedure and Rules page. The Russian hacks was just one of many pieces that viewers have complained about due to coming across as slanted and agenda-driven.
Even still, I did reach out to Concentrix regarding their relationship with Channel 4 News and whether or not the organization takes viewer feedback and forwards it directly to Channel 4 or if it’s simply consolidated and retained by Concentrix. If they respond the article will be updated with their response.
[Update 1/3/2017:] Kamy Dowds, the Channel 4 manager for Concentrix responded to the query about their ties to the broadcast network and how viewer inquiries are handled, stating…
“The role of the Viewer Enquires Team is to log and respond to viewer comments and ensure that these comments are directed to the relevant department. To ensure that this happens all comments are included on a daily log which is then sent to the people responsible for the programme, in this case the News Team. The News Editor and Commissioning Editor are then able to read the comments and feedback to their teams where necessary. “