Madeleine McCann: Did xenophobia distort the ethics of British broadcast journalism?

The coverage of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann took over the news agenda in May, 2007. The media circus that followed left a question mark over the current state of British journalism. Since 24-hour news channels emerged, the media has changed significantly, yet few people realise what a major impact it has on everyday life.

The dissertation offers a detailed examination of what happened when the news teams descended on Praia da Luz in Portugal, a country previously outside the grasp of ‘rolling’ news. It investigates how 24-hour news channels covered the Madeleine McCann story from the night of the 3-year-old’s disappearance until July 2008, when the case was shelved by the Portuguese authorities. Through interviewing English and Portuguese journalists who worked in the Algarve and experts in the broadcast industry, the investigation attempts to uncover the reality of how news was reported from Portugal.

The disappearance of a little girl has exposed very worrying trends in television news: a willingness to distort events to create a real life drama, an ability to mislead the public en masse and the failure to deliver accurate news, despite having extensive resources in place.

Ruth Sharpe's article here

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