The Sun gives us an early election result October 2, 2009Posted by N.C.OnlineTraining in Uncategorized.
One of the biggest political stories of the year this one – The Sun newspaper has declared it is no longer supporting the Labour party and is now following the Conservatives (read the Guardian’s coverage here).
So what? I hear you cry. Folks, this is a huge deal which demonstrates just how influential newspapers can be. Let’s take a look at the past few elections. In 1992, on voting day, The Sun ran the following front page:
One could argue that this kind of propoganda hadn’t been seen since World War II, and the effect that it had on its reader meant that Labour did indeed lose an election that everybody thought they would win. So confident of their influence, the following day The Sun published this infamous cover:
Personally, I think it was the warning about what Page 3 might look like under a Labour government wot won it, but I digress. Fast forward five years to the 1997 general election and The Sun announces it’s switching its support to Labour, following an unparralled spin campaign from Labour. We were even treated to shots of Tony Blair playing his guitar and smooching with the likes of the Gallagher brothers. That’s right folks, Tony was hip, hot and happening, and a prime candidate for winning. And a win they did indeed achieve – landslide victory at that.
The more cynical amongst us would argue that The Sun switches over its allegiance the moment they realise who is going to win the election. Back in 1997, the Conservatives had been destroyed by years of Maggie Thatcher, and a replacement leader who had the charisma of a gnat. Unsurprising then that they were going to lose. In 2009 the roles are reversed, Gordon Brown stands little chance of lifting Labour out of the mess they’ve got themselves into, and The Sun is fully aware of this.
What does this say about audience effects? Are people who read The Sun unable to think for themselves? Should a newspaper be allowed to discuss its political leanings? Discuss folks, you will be using this story in your exam.