Media Powerlist: How far do media organisations actually influence UK elections?

The bosses of the biggest newspapers in the UK have direct connections with political parties that in the past have endorsed who they think should be the countries next leader, this is according to analysis of data by Leeds Hacks.

By Jaimie Kay

The influence of newspapers was studied in a poll by YouGov which clearly shows that although print media is less popular over all as a way of distributing news, papers still have a high level of political sway.

Newspapers and media organisations are generally right or left wing and the main two parties that get endorsed are The Labour Party and The Conservatives.

In the 2017 General Election, The Guardian declared its support for Labour and their leader Jeremy Corbyn. The Guardian is considered to be a left wing paper. The Daily Mail, a long time supporter of the Tories under their editor Paul Dacre, endorsed The Conservatives and the current Prime Minister Theresa May.

‘an enemy of the people’

The right wing papers and magazines in support of parties such as The Conservatives have several ex-government advisors or supporters on their board. Lord Michael Heseltine, a Conservative MP is on the board for Haymarket Group who own 70 different brands of publications.

The info-graphic below shows the endorsements in the last four General Elections and the prominent directors on the boards of these media organisations:

PNG of Info-Graphic

An Info-Graphic showing political endorsements of newspapers and prominent board members of each publications.

Rupert Murdoch’s popular paper , The Sun has frequently changed its support of party leaders in the last three elections since 2005 they have declared support for The Conservatives.

The Daily Mail,has Tessa Keswick as one of their directors, Mrs Keswick was once an adviser to the Conservative politician Ken Clarke and was a Councillor for Kensington and Chelsea, known in the past as one of the safest Conservative seats in the country.

‘newspapers back parties when it’s clear that they’re going to win’

Bart Cammaerts is Professor of Politics and Communication in the Department of Media and Communications at London School Of Economics, he said:

“What I do think,  is that no newspaper can claim in good faith ’to have won’ an election today, the clear bias of almost all British newspapers to the right, whether that is liberal right, center right, or extreme right is in my view highly problematic. If this press hadn’t consistently and maliciously depicted Corbyn as a terrorist friend, an enemy of the people, unelectable, a bearded weirdo, etc. etc. he would most probably have convincingly won the 2017 elections.”

The YouGov poll showed that “The role of newspapers in General Elections has a significant impact on the outcome.”

A YouGov poll, showing the perceptions of media impact on general elections.

A YouGov poll, showing the perceptions of media impact on general elections.

Darren Yaxley, Research Director at YouGov said:

“I’ve read plenty of pieces about the likely impact of newspapers on election results and the conclusion often seems to be that newspapers back parties when it’s clear that they’re going to win (e.g. the Sun switching its support to Labour when they were at 57% in the polls).”

Newspapers in the UK have influence, whether they should is a constant debate among the public.







About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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