The Matrix Project

The Journalistic Matrix: Distorting Your View of Reality?

The Matrix Project is an effort to document personal factors that undermine powerful journalists’ claims of objectivity and impartiality. We have constructed a database on the Top 100 UK journalists to note significant conflicts of interest and likely causes of bias/imbalance. Read on for more info and access to the database!

Journalists love to tell us how independent they are, how impartial they are and how fearless they are. Their very raison d’etre, they tell us, is to interrogate power.

“the need for an institution, an estate, a profession, a trade…that exists independently of the other main centres of power in society”

ALan rusbridger

“I would die in a ditch for the impartiality of the BBC”

Laura Kuenssberg

“It was the job then and it is the job now for the BBC, for journalism in general, to challenge those in power”

Nick Robinson

Those who closely analyse the media observe a different picture. Chomsky’s propaganda model, explained here, and a weight of evidence, summarised here, suggest that, far from challenging power, the primary role of corporate media journalists is to pacify the public and manufacture consent for the policies of the rich and powerful.

Are journalists, in fact, non-independent, highly partial courtiers of power?

An important factor in this debate – one that isn’t usually studied – is the socio-economic/educational background of influential journalists. It seems uncontroversial to say that individuals from an “elite” background (Oxbridge/private school, extreme wealth, family members in “establishment” positions) generally perceive the world differently to those from a non-elite background.

They are, for example, more likely to share the concerns of the powerful than those from “lesser” backgrounds and may even constitute part of the Establishment, defined by Owen Jones as “powerful groups that need to protect their position…to ‘manage’ democracy to make sure that it does not threaten their interests.”

Image
Emily Sheffield: Samantha Cameron’s sister and…fearless editor of a paper holding the powerful to account?

In addition, graduates of exclusive schools and universities are so concentrated at the top of British society (documented in this Elitist Britain parliamentary report) that they enter the professional world with countless pre-existing connections to powerful figures in other fields. A journalist like Emily Sheffield, editor of the Evening Standard from 2020-21 has friends and family – friends of friends, friends of family – in the very fields she’s meant to hold to account. Private Eye note that “the Standard was oddly uncurious about the Greensill scandal which enveloped Sheffield’s brother-in-law David Cameron…”

We decided to take a close look at the 100 most influential news journalists in the UK to see how many fit an “elite” or “establishment” mould through their backgrounds and/or personal connections. This is not a subjective study. We outline clearly here our criteria and methodology.

We have, however, chosen to call this project The Matrix Database. Why? Because if our findings show that the majority of the top UK journalists represent the elite of society, incestuously interlinked with other fields of power, it is yet further evidence that the mainstream media provide a distorted picture of the world and perpetuate, rather than challenge, power…

The Top 100 UK Journalists (2021)

(ranked by Twitter followers)

Journalists with a picture have been added to the database. Click their picture to read their entry.

1.
Jon Snow
Channel 4
Twitter: 1.4 million

2.
Laura Kuenssberg

BBC
Twitter: 1.3 million

3.
Andrew Neil
Spectator
Twitter: 1.2 million

4.
Robert Peston
ITV
Twitter: 1.2 million

5.
Nick Robinson
BBC
Twitter: 1 million

6.
Owen Jones
Guardian
Twitter: 1 million

7.
Caitlin Moran
Times
Twitter: 860K


8.
James O’Brien
LBC
830K

9.
Andrew Marr
BBC
Twitter: low use


10.
Jeremy Vine
BBC
Twitter: 770K

11.
Krishnan Guru-Murthy
Channel 4 News
Twitter: 630K


12.
Fiona Bruce

BBC
Twitter: N/A


13.
Kay Burley

Sky News
Twitter: 520K

14.
Evan Davis

BBC
Twitter: 500K
15.
Kate Garraway

Sky News
Twitter: 475K
16.
Emily Maitlis

BBC
Twitter: 440K

17.
Andrew Rawnsley

Observer
Twitter: 407K

18.
Daniel Finkelstein

The Times
Twitter: 400K

19.
Dan Wootton

GB News
Twitter: 393K

20.
Martha Kearney

BBC
Twitter: 352K

21.
Beth Rigby

Sky News
Twitter: 345K

22.
Ian Dunt
Politics.co.uk
Twitter: 341K

23.
Julia Hartley-Brewer
TalkRadio
Twitter: 334K

24.
Kevin Maguire

Daily Mirror
Twitter: 273K

25.
Fraser Nelson

Spectator
Twitter: 270K

26.
Jim Waterson

Guardian
Twitter: 253K

27.
Tina Daheley

BBC
Twitter: 252K

28.
Mishal Husain

BBC
Twitter: 244K

29.
Lewis Goodall

BBC
Twitter: 237K

30.
Iain Dale

LBC
Twitter: 228K

31.
Cathy Newman

Channel 4 News
Twitter: 220K

32.
Alan Rusbridger

Prospect Magazine
Twitter: 219K

33.
Lyse Doucet

BBC
Twitter: 219K

34.
Adam Boulton

Sky News
Twitter: 213K

35.
Paul Waugh

The i Paper
Twitter: 200K

36.
Nick Ferrari

LBC
Twitter: 199K

37.
Jeremy Bowen

BBC
Twitter: 196K

38.
Sarah-Jane Mee

Sky News
Twitter: 193K

39.
Tim Harford

Financial Times
Twitter: 188K

40.
Sophy Ridge

Sky News
Twitter: 185K

41.
Tom Newton Dunn

The Times
Twitter: 185K

42.
Sam Coates

Sky News
Twitter: 183K

43.
Polly Toynbee

Guardian
Twitter: 182K

44.
Rebecca English

Daily Mail
Twitter: 180K


45.
Jim Pickard

The Times
Twitter: 179K


46.
Hadley Freeman

Guardian
Twitter: 178K

47.
Andrew Pierce

Daily Mail
Twitter: 177K

48.
Malcolm Moore

Financial Times
Twitter: 177K

49.
Emma Barnett

BBC
Twitter: 177K

50.
Tim Shipman

The Times
Twitter: 170K

51.
Pippa Crerar

Daily Mirror
Twitter: 170K

52.
Isabel Hardman

Spectator
Twitter: 168K

53.
Jon Sopel

BBC
Twitter: 167K

54.
Chris Mason

BBC
Twitter: 164K

55.
David Aaranovitch

The Times
Twitter: 157K


56.
Chris Giles

Financial Times
Twitter: 154K


57.
Ros Atkins

BBC
Twitter: 154K

58.
Victoria Derbyshire

BBC
Twitter: 151K

59.
Ed Conway

Sky News
Twitter: 145K

60.
Neil Oliver

GB News
Twitter: 141K

61.
Hannah Jane Parkinson

Guardian
Twitter: 136K

62.
Huw Edwards

BBC
Twitter: 136K

63.
Richard Palmer

Daily Express
Twitter: 135K

64.
Jonathan Freedland

Guardian
Twitter: 133K

65.
Rageh Omaar

ITV News
Twitter: 126K

66.
Harry Cole

The Sun
Twitter: 126K

67.
Stephanie Flanders

Bloomberg/BBC
Twitter: 125K

68.
John Crace

Guardian
Twitter: 124K

69.
Nick Sutton

Sky News
Twitter: 118K

70.
Sophie Raworth

BBC
Twitter: 117K

71.
Alex Crawford

Sky News
Twitter: 116K

72.
Stephen Bush

New Statesmen
Twitter: 115K

73.
Jamal Osman

Channel 4 News
Twitter: 113K

74.
Eddie Mair
LBC
Twitter: 112K

75.
Alex Thomson
Channel 4 News
Twitter: 107K

76.
Tom Harwood
GB News
Twitter: 107K

77.
Kate McCann

Sky News
Twitter: 106K

78.
Amol Rajan

BBC
Twitter: 105K

79.
Chris Ship

ITV News
Twitter: 105K

80.
George Eaton

New Statesman
Twitter: 104K

81.
Stephen Sackur

BBC
Twitter: 103K

82.
Sebastian Payne

Financial Times
Twitter: 103K

83.
Hugh Pym

BBC
Twitter: 102K

84.
Matthew Syed

The Times
Twitter: 102K

85.
Stig Abell

The Times
Twitter: 101K

86.
Neil Henderson

BBC
Twitter: 100K

87.
Sathnam Sanghera

The Times
Twitter: 99K

88.
Frank Gardner

BBC
Twitter: 99K

89.
Shelagh Fogarty

LBC
Twitter: 98K

90.
Peter Foster

Financial Times
Twitter: 98K

91.
Anita Rani

BBC
Twitter: 98K

92.
Rafael Behr

Guardian
Twitter: 97K

93.
James Forsyth

Spectator
Twitter: 96K

94.
Adam Fleming

BBC
Twitter: 96K

95.
Ian King

Sky News
Twitter: 96K

96.
Tom Bradby

ITV News
Twitter: 95K

97.
Faisal Islam

BBC
Twitter: 368K

98.
John Simpson

BBC
Twitter: 138K

99.
Kirsty Wark

BBC
Twitter: 54K

100.
Nicholas Witchell

BBC
Twitter: N/A