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Media: no longer a serious player

Richard North, 31/12/2012  


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Courtesy of Autonomous Mind and Boiling Frog, we pick up the latest blunder from the Failygraph, in describing Herman Van Rompuy as "president of the Council of Europe". Nor is this the unguarded extrusion of some random commentator, but the "Telegraph view" – the corporate view of a newspaper which AM describes as the Barclay Brother Beano.

Certainly, any newspaper which makes such a fundamental blunder cannot be taken as a serious player on matters to do with the EU. But then, for a media at large which insists on calling the European Councils "summits", it is unsurprising that such mistakes are made.

The waning credibility of the legacy media also helps explain why circulation is in terminal decline. The last figures for the Daily Telegraph (October), bottomed out at 560,471 copies daily, a 7.19 percent drop year-on-year. In July, the average was 576,790 copies.

This is a newspaper which, in 1980 boasted a circulation of 1.4 million and even in the year 2000 managed over a million copies daily. Still, though, with the size of the business halved – and currently in free fall – it has not come to terms with the reasons for its decline.

To an extent, that decline is shrouded by the "bubble effect", as the media and politicians still talk to each other in a closed loop, giving the hacks the impression that they are just as influential as they have ever been. But, where the stock of politicians is also on the wane, the politico-media bubble ends up talking to itself while the rest of the world looks on.

Certainly, as Witterings from Witney points out, we are not going to get any sense from the legacy media on the EU issue. They have not even begun to master the basics, which means that we get nothing of any value from them. 

But as long as the media are so far distant from reality that they can make their elementary mistakes, yet have the likes of Leveson commend them for the "powerful reputation for accuracy", there is no obvious corrective. Unaware of their own mistakes, the media will continue to make them, increasingly conforming their own irrelevance in a debate where their readers are better informed.

How ironic it is then that the Daily Telegraph presumes to tell Mr Cameron what to do, when it can't even put its own house in order.

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