Thursday 14 July 2011

No great leap, but no small business - by @natandoron

I like Daniel Knowles. He seems an honest and genuine chap (based on our limited online exchanges). Whenever I read his analysis of a situation in his Telegraph column, it does however seem to confirm something entirely different to what he is arguing. His commentary on the problems now facing the Murdoch empire is a fine example of this.

Knowles claims that the fall of Murdoch won’t produce a “Great Leap Leftwards”. His use of Maoist terminology to paint all those on the left as Marxists is fairly amusing and telling in itself. He even expends his second paragraph explaining the Marxist concept of false consciousness. Fairly good way of reinforcing telegraph caricatures of all those who vote Labour as swivel-eyed Marxist-Leninists. More intriguing is Knowles’ claim that Most people form their political opinions based on conversations in the pub or at dinner parties, or as a result of seeing party leaders on TV.” Firstly TV is of course a form of media (and the subject of the Murdoch BSkyB bid) and these pub conversations are presumably based on some prior knowledge about politics. Some of this knowledge may be in part taken from a source of media such as, I don’t know, popular daily newspapers?

By trying to caricature those on the left as believing that Murdoch is the only thing stopping the revolutionary vanguard from shaking the public out of their political apathy, Knowles misses what a lot of these commentators are actually trying to say. The recalibration of mass media ownership and influence in a country is obviously hugely significant and to some extent, a game changer. Everybody knows that the media is a very important and effective way to convey political messaging. Otherwise politicians wouldn’t expend so much effort trying to shape their coverage on the front pages and TV news bulletins. The career of someone like Alastair Campbell is testimony to this. Coverage in mass media helps form opinions.

In essence, Knowles is right - Murdoch’s fall won’t bring about Communism. The fact that the people who actually think it will probably number less than 10 doesn’t really matter. In his dismissive tone, my instinct is that Knowles understands this all too well. His article is in essence an attempt to downplay the significance of these events and essentially frame any attempts to applaud them as left-wing extremism. A clever use in itself of media to try and shape opinion.

The point is breaking up a monopolisation of media sources is only ever going to a decent thing. We need more diversity of opinion and indeed more competition in our media sources. What we also need is more transparency and methods of investigation that aren’t outside of the law and/or widely believed to be morally reprehensible. The current events will, I hope, contribute to the attainment of these wider goals. This is important and significant. Berlin wall references and Maoist slogans may be lazy, but make no mistake - this week will go down in history.

Natan Doron is a Researcher at the Fabian Society

1 comment:

Robert said...

So the use of the BBC by labour and the Tories is some how different, I'm disabled and lucky dying, with hope I'll be dead before they can take my money from me.

But Labour had three green papers on welfare, and three programs on the same day on the BBC about benefit scroungers.

ITV went and used a soap to show us about scroungers by getting a family into it's major soap.

The use of the media and press has been going on since the written work, King bloody TuT must have had somebody like Campbell.

So Murdock is just a party of the same problem.