Friday, July 29, 2011
Media Barons' Infuence is Much Exaggerated
Journalist and pollster, Peter Kellner, in the August edition of Prospect Magazine, argues something I have long debated with students and colleagues: that the power of media barons is usually exaggerated. He suggests we see them as scary monsters, the influence of which can actually be just shrugged away. He homes in on the definitive example always quoted: 'It's the Sun Wot Won it', the tabloid's headline in the wake of the 1992 election victory which many thought Kinnock would win but which it is believed was denied him by the impact of The Sun. Many thought this clear evidence that you needed Murdoch's support to win a modern election in the UK.
He quotes the study by Heath, Jowell, and Curtice, Labour's |Last Chance? This study re-interviewed in 1992 a survey panel first interviewed after the 1987 election.
'The date showed that the shift of attitudes between 1987 and 1992 among readers of The Sun and other pro Tory tabloids was much the same as among the rest of of the electorate. In both groups Labour's support rose by four percentage points. The study compiled a composite approval index for each leader, on a scale of 0 to 4. Among the electorate as a whole, Kinnock's rating slipped from 2.4 to 2.3 in 1992. It was lower among readers of the Tory tabloids, 1'9 in both elections- but no sign of decline between the two elections. The authors concluded:
'Neither The Sun nor any other Conservative tabloid newspapers were responsible for the John Major's unexpected victory.'