Newspapers have often being accused of showcasing preference or spinning a story in favour of one particular side or another to suit personal interests or agendas.
During general elections in Britain, newspapers have been known to show political preferences for particular parties.
The Politics of UK Newspapers
List of UK Newspapers’ Political Endorsements for 2015 General Election
Daily Express – Endorsed the UK Independence Party
Daily Mail – Supported a Conservative government. Encouraged anti-Labour tactical voting.
Daily Telegraph – Mainly Conservative
The Guardian – Endorsed the Labour Party. Supported Liberal Democrat candidates where they were the main opposition to the Conservatives.
The Independent – Endorsed a second term of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition.
The Sun – Supported voting for the Liberal Democrats in 14 Labour/LibDem marginals. In the past have endorsed The Conservative Party and Labour.
Do these agendas affect the objectivity of reporting? If so how much impact can it have?
1992 General Election
In 1983 ‘The Sun’ ran a front-page story entitled ‘Do you seriously want this old man to run Britain?’
In March 1987 they ran a headline entitled ‘Kinnock admits I back loonies’ and ‘Horrific 100 days under Kinnock.’
These are just a few examples of what Greenslade has labelled ‘a daily onslaught that warped the public’s perception’ of Neil Kinnock.
He suggested the Sun’s coverage throughout that year was responsible for an 8% of its readers who has identified as Labour supporters, to convert to backing the Conservatives.
He ascertained that this result was not simply because of the stories they ran in the couple of months leading up to the election, but that it was a ’drip effect’ that spanned a much longer time frame to form a character assassination of both Kinnock’s professional and personal life.
‘The Sun’ was the best-selling paper in Britain at the time, no one could doubt its power and influence that year over the general public. In the 1992 General Election Labour had its third worst result since 1945.
Five years later a similar situation concerning ‘The Sun’ arose; though this time they were in support of Labour. Kuhn and Neveu observed the power of Labour during this period, concluding that its success in the election was due to strategic planning that ‘placed communication at the heart of its methodology.’
The Labour party used media management to improve their overall image; using spin –doctoring to limit damage and counteract it. The Labour Party’s relationship with the media at the time was solidified based on Blair’s friendship with Murdoch. In later years this relationship disintegrated.
Then in the 2010 General Election we saw once more how political reporting changed to reflect the transitioning demands of the audience.
It was the first time that the Conservative party returned to government since 1992.
‘The Sun’ endorsed their campaign with front-page headlines reading ‘In Cameron we Trust’ and presenting them as ‘The Only Choice if you want to rescue Britain from disaster.’
Considering on both occasions, in 1992 and 2010, that the Conservatives won and that ‘The Sun’ was backing them, we can conclude there is some correlation between the workings of the Press and Government