How much influence does the Murdoch empire actually have over voters?
22 July 2011 1 Comment
Much has been made of the recent phone hacking scandal but how much influence do the papers actually have? The Sun, and therefore the Murdochs, claim to win elections for the party they back but maybe their power is not as strong as they think which would open up a different way of approaching the media.
A majority of Sun readers voted Labour in 2005 and Conservative in 2010 and the Sun would like to take the credit for this.
Yet according to the book Explaining Cameron’s Coalition almost all this change had happened before the Sun announcement and the paper was merely following its readers. This is consistent with the view of advertising professionals at the election who felt that advertising had a limited effect. So if the paper follows its readers, and not the other way around, then maybe we would see a longer term trend in paper affiliations lagging behind the curve?
While it could be argued it is a chicken and egg situation you could also argue that there is a lag in general change in political affiliations of the papers. In 1997, when Labour won its landslide there were 4 papers backing them and 4 backing the Tories. In 2001, there were less people voting Labour but more papers backing them and then in 2005 less papers backing Labour. This would back up the claim made in Explaining Cameron’s Coalition that it is the voters who change their mind and the papers follow that.
While it is clearly useful to have backing of national newspapers it would suggest that there are other more effective means of influencing the public. Social Influencing Media is an area which looks at how to do just that which the Lib Dems could benefit from and I have written about here.