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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Found on the Internets: Peter Jukes on the British elections

Peter Jukes shared this story about the British election. The mainstream media, which he is a frequent critic of, is livid about their loss of relevance.

Will the Internet Swing this election? Or has the Press just lost it?

In the air war of the British General election, social media was like a hand-held stinger missile against the massed squadrons of the press. […]

Twitter, Facebook, blogs and chat forums are just peer to peer publishing platforms. But compared to the mainstream press, they can perform an immediate crowd-sourced rebuttal unit. Online there are thousands of potential voluntary fact checkers, photographers, spin-meisters, satirists, pundits and witnesses. […]

The main function of social media, therefore, has been in reaction to media coverage. It’s given a voice, that has perhaps long been there, to the vast majority who don’t read the press, or feel television coverage is problematic.

His post reads like a novel. More excerpts below.

For various reasons I’ve outlined before, it’s been the most rabidly partisan election for the British press for many years. 80% of Fleet Street have come out in favour of the ruling Conservatives or their coalition. So crassly personal has the tabloid coverage become that the head of public relations (no less) for Britain’s top selling newspaper was on Twitter tweeting out a picture with some visual resemblance of Labour leader Ed Miliband to a Nepalese earthquake victim.

Most of the mainstream press ‘talking points’ have emanated directly from ‘lines to take’ issued by the Conservative Campaign HQ. With limits imposed by British law on campaign spending, these partisan hit jobs are the equivalent to millions of pounds in free advertising.

Perversely, the press’s negative coverage of  Miliband could be rebounding on its authors. The British famously love an ‘underdog’ and the televised debates have seen a positive shift in Miliband’s favourability ratings.

It was bound to happen. It would take an acrobatic feat for the Labour leader to limbo dance under the low expectations of him generated by a hostile press.

Though some disagree about how uniquely partisan the press is, even the old school journalists, from former tabloid editor Piers Morgan to Blair spin doctor Alastair Campbell, admit that the crucial difference this time is the rise of social media.


  1. Apparently at this time, 5:20pm Eastern, the Cameron Tories (conservatives) have won the most seats but not enough for a majority on their own.

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