De Piero: High time Labour redefined its relationship with the press

Gloria de Piero has called for "a more realistic relationship" between Labour and the media, one in which newspapers' influence "is kept in perspective".

Shadow culture minister Gloria de Piero has called for “a more realistic relationship” between the party and the media, one in which newspapers’ influence “is kept in perspective”. De Piero, a former broadcast journalist, says more attention should be paid to TV news, which has not suffered the same slump in viewers as the print media.

Writing in the forthcoming Fabian Review conference special, de Piero points out:

“Newspaper circulations are falling, but there has been no similar crisis in TV news. BBC News at One – which is the BBC news bulletin with the lowest number of viewers – is watched by 3.63 million people, around half a million more than the number of people who buy The Sun.

“BBC News at Ten, meanwhile, has an average nightly audience of 6.36 million. ITV’s news bulletins may be less popular but they are still watched by many more people than the print editions of most newspapers can hope to reach: 2.34 million watch the ITV News at Ten, for example.

“More importantly, broadcast news in this country is also far more trusted than newspapers.”

Indeed, on the point about trust, de Piero reveals the degree to which papers are treated sceptically – even before the full horror of the phone hacking scandal emerged:

“It is worth looking in some detail at the findings of the autumn 2010 Eurobarometer survey, which is based on regular opinion polls conducted simultaneously in all EU member states… The UK ‘tend to trust’ figure when asked about the press was 18 per cent – the lowest by far of the 27 EU states. Only Greece (27 per cent) came near it. The EU average was 52 per cent.

“When asked the same question about radio, the UK ’tend to trust’ figure of 55 per cent was close to the EU average of 57 per cent. Greece recorded the lowest trust figure in radio of 36 per cent. As with radio, the UK’s TV trust ratings (51 per cent) were very close to the EU average (50 per cent).

“In other words, the reputation of the UK print media does not have far to fall. Perhaps that explains why, despite the Sun’s concerted and vicious attacks on Labour and Gordon Brown in the run up the last election, more than one in four (28 per cent) of Sun readers still voted Labour.

“It is up to national titles to repair their reputations in the eyes of the public. The Leveson Inquiry into press standards will be part of that process and must also be allowed to take its course.”

De Piero adds that social media “will continue to change the dynamics of news and create new ways of communicating with the electorate”, citing the example of Mumsnet, which has 1.5 million monthly unique users, and whose subscribers have recently quizzed all three party leaders.

And of Twitter, de Piero says it:

“…allows politicians to talk directly to voters – their message may be short but it is unfiltered.”

See also:

Media committee failed to get Murdoch to accept responsibilitySara Ibrahim, July 21st 2011

The hackgate questions Cameron must answerShamik Das, July 20th 2011

The 25 questions over the SNP’s Murdoch linksEd Jacobs, July 19th 2011

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