Why are there different opinions on legislation of illegal land use?

I have been asked to compare contrasting views on an important issue or subject. I have decided to compare two newspaper articles, because the opinions in the newspaper can reach millions of people, being still popular news medium. They influence the way we think, and are therefore very important. I have chosen articles about the issues of squatters, people who illegally build on land that is not theirs, and will look at the way they effect our society and our lives, and whether they should be allowed to continue, or whether possible future government ruling to eliminate this problem should be taken.

I have chosen to compare the way the articles where written in the telegraph, with how they where written in the observer. Although these newspapers are similar, they offer surprisingly contrasting viewpoints. My aim is to find out whether we have considered all the facts in the issue as a nation, before being judgemental on this group of people who still deserve a fair trail.

I found this story in the telegraph on their internet site, the views expressed may therefore be slightly different to how they would be in a real newspaper, as online content is less subject to conformity then printed word, as it does not need to sell as much, a prospect that could be harmed by offensive opinions, and is read by a smaller audience. I then searched google for related stories. It returned the one on the observer for me, about the same item of news. The articles talk about a proposal by Michael Howard, promising to put into action new legislation to stop squatters from "bending the law using human rights".

In doing so, he will actively oppose the human rights act; supposedly greatly supported by the labour party, so that people may not use it as reason to stay on council owned land. The telegraph is subtly supportive of the proposal, though does not actively condone it, probably as it is aware of the racist and prejudices connotations of the action whereas in the observer, it actively opposed the proposal, pointing out that there had already been warnings to the government and to newspapers of the consequences of unfairly discriminating against gypsies.

The telegraph is a broadsheet newspaper, and like most papers is run with the purpose of selling issues and making money. In the case of this story, it has probably tried to appeal to the rural section of the public. It directly refers to them in the article, as being the one affected, and tries to sympathise with the losses of money and land they may suffer if the ruling is not passed. The observer, however, supports the gypsies, though this would not make a boost in profit.

It is likely that it supports more noble causes then the telegraph, and pays more heed for human rights then for money. I can see that both papers are in some way biased. In the telegraph, it uses emotive language such as "special privileges enjoyed by travellers", making the reader believe that gypsies get an unfair advantage over others. The observer uses bias in the opposite direction, calling the motion an "outspoken attack" and "exploit(ing) rural anger". My personal opinion is that the movement should not be passed, for a number of reasons.

Firstly, its' "review" of the human rights act could easily be exploited and be used as an opportunity to change other aspects of the human rights act, such as the right to a fair trial, or the right of free speech, or any of the many other important aspects of our law and society. Secondly, the review on human rights is a huge and dangerous step, and the reasons given by Michael Howard to do this are not really satisfactory. He claims that he wishes to stop people bending the law to their own ends using the act.

However, the most likely reason is that after recent negative coverage of squatter minorities in the newspapers, the Tory party is trying to win votes by taking action on the propaganda, though the said propaganda came from the sun, a newspaper that is not reliable basis for political decisions. This issue is important because it affects the lives of both travellers and people living in rural areas. However, there is little I can do to affect this issue. The biggest problem is that the Tory party is attempting to make a tour de force and impress the public for an election, rather then make the right decision.

As a result of this, I can see that it is likely for many travellers to lose their right to stay where they are as the human rights legislation changes, however, the labour party, who defend the human rights law, will probably stop the changes from being made. In my opinion, I think this issue helps us to better understand the effects that newspaper reporting can have on the attitudes within the government and eventually the everyday lives of 1000s of people.

By comparing the telegraph with the observer, I have found that different papers withy different motives can often produce very different stories on one issue, and that it is only by reading different papers can we be sure of a fair and unbiased viewpoint. I can now see more clearly how the media can affect my, and ultimately that of a government, thinking and understanding of a certain issue. In the future, I intend to find more sources to help me understand the facts surrounding an issue before deciding whether I support or condemn an action or change.