Wednesday, May 12, 2010

a diversified party system = a diversified media

I'm not a serious media-watcher, but it's hard to miss large sections of the media blowing their shit, first about the Nazi LibDems and now about the LibDem-Conservative coalition.

We expect this from the ever-angry Mail, suddenly finding some new important things to hate. However in general it upsets the media ecosystem. In the UK we have some newspapers that reliably back a particular party - the Torygraph and the Mirror, for example. This election has already shifted that system, when the Guardian belatedly came out in support of the Liberal Democrats rather than Labour. Then there are the Murdoch papers that throw their impressive weight behind one party.

Coalition government make these simple media positions hard to sustain. Not only that, but I would propose that a more diverse party system, such as the one we may well be edging towards, means a more diversified media. Each significant party means a target market of supporters looking for news and comment. Is a media conglomerate like Murdoch's flexible enough to support a number of different parties? At the very least, this seems to diffuse its influence. It may force a genuinely more diverse editorial line.

On top of that this kind of change would open opportunities for new media. British newspapers are financially and professionally troubled enough as it is.

So, if and when electoral reform approaches, expect a media campaign against it as vicious as any we've seen. Coalition government and a diversified party system is not in the interest of big media corporations.


Felicity said...

Perhaps they will get behind specific policies and issues as they come up?

Tim said...

I think that as long as the party system itself is strong, parties will dominate over policies. The election result may have weakened the party system, but it's still very strong. The means of controlling information and of influencing politics are still party based. (eg. information on a policy will come from a party PR person.)
When it comes down to it, we vote for parties not policies, so at election-time, organisations will exert their influence by backing a party.