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Hard Evidence – more data, less media spin

The BBC is biased, right? Almost everyone in the UK has a view on this, from right-wing columnists in London to Yes campaigners in Scotland to disgruntled Greens in Brighton. It’s a debate as old as the corporation itself, one so steeped in ideology that it can be almost impossible to get a clear-eyed assessment of how the public broadcaster is faring. That’s why The Conversation, in launching its Hard Evidence section last year, chose the question of BBC bias as the issue to kick off with.

We asked Mike Berry, a researcher who had completed a major content analysis of BBC coverage, to explain what he had found in his review. And by asking an expert to draw on solid data to form evidence-based conclusions, we were able to cut through all the froth and finally answer the question. Is the BBC biased? And we got an answer: yes, it’s biased to the right.

Mike was the first of many academics and researchers to take on some of the trickiest public policy questions that dominate the news agenda. Does benefits tourism exist? Can we afford an ageing population? Does gun control work? Are universities biased? And we’ve also looked at some of the more light-hearted debates: how will the World Cup ball swerve? Is the UK really shunned at Eurovision? Is the midlife crisis real?

With the generous support of Nesta through its Alliance for Useful Evidence, we’re providing evidence-based journalism on issues that matter. In a world of spin where everyone has an agenda, The Conversation is here to provide a sane alternative to media hysteria. And we’re always keen to do more, so if you have a tough question you’d like answers to, or a data set that cuts through a thorny issue, please get in touch.