Aren’t Newspapers Dying Anyway?
Although newspapers certainly are, a dying medium, they can still cause dramatic public slurs and allow them to pass as “news” among the masses at a few hours notice.
Newspapers are on their way out, but they are still the weapon of choice for politicians. Although the papers don’t have enough clout to change the votes of an entire nation per se, they do indeed cause enough of a ruckus to emphasise splits in a party, which the voting public do not like.
David Runciman at the Guardian wrote the following about the subtle power of newspapers in the US:
“Since the war, no sitting US president who has faced an internal primary challenge has gone on to re-election; every one who faced no primary challenger has been re-elected.”
In other words, if there’s a split in the party, the public aren’t likely to trust the party. Newspapers can highlight such a split.
Also, Prime Ministers don’t have as much power as they would like and consequently they’re always on the hunt for a little extra boom in their policy pipes. Jonathan Powell, Blair’s ex-chief of staff, wrote in his book, The New Machiavelli:
“Prime ministers soon become convinced that real power lies somewhere else… and keep enviously trying to see if they can seize it”.
If the PM manages to influence the top editors, then he can, by proxy, influence what their entire media empire does and says. It’s an extra level of power dickery. Politicians can’t intimidate people out in the open, the press can. Or, if they like, they can do it behind closed doors, too.