Wednesday, August 08, 2012

UK newspaper readership: Right:Left = 3:1

I have done another calculation of the right-left readership numbers of UK papers, partly because I am always having to look for it on this blog and it is at the bottom of this post.

The data is here for the 12 months to December 2010.

By my calculations the Sun, Mail, Telegraph, Times, Star and Express have a readership of 18,756,000, and the Guardian, Mirror, Record (Scotland) and Independent have a readership of 4,722,000.

So right-wing daily papers have 75% of the market, and leftish papers have 25% of the market.
For every person reading leftish papers, there are 3 reading rightish (or rightist) papers.

This is a sorry state of affairs. In a decent democracy, we would expect a normal bell shaped curve of political opinion, reflected by a 50:50 split between rightish and leftish papers. The 1:3 skewing that we find in reality reflects the weakness of the purchase of the Right on the national opinion: the fact that general elections have only a slight Conservative bias rather than a 3:1 bias shows that if it were 50:50, the political ethos of the UK would be far more reasonable and egalitarian than it now is.

It may be argued that this is due to selection bias, that the public demand right wing crap, and so that's what they get. However, there is a huge public sentiment against the crap they are fed, as shown by the low esteem in which journalists are held, and the wave of spontaneous applause that Earl Spencer got when he criticised the press at Princess Diana's wedding.

The Leveson Inquiry is going to come out with some recommendations.
I will jump the gun here with some suggestions off the top of me 'ead.

  1. Require the owner's name to be printed under the mast head of every newspaper.
  2. Only one national per plutocrat, and/or 2 locals (Latter negotiable)
  3. Only British domiciled persons to own British newspapers
  4. If the bastards try to avoid tax, take their newspaper away
  5. er...
  6. any other suggestions?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

Cedders said...

So it doesn't actually seem to represent voting preferences, and hasn't for decades. One could say the Guardian has a centrist line, and the only truly "left" daily is the Morning Star.

Several possible reasons, for which it would be interesting to know actual evidence:
* Left-wing people buy fewer newspapers (because of lower disposable income? less time? more independence?)
* The newspapers have moved to the right over time - The Sun wasn't right-wing until Murdoch took over in 1969; similarly the Times moved to capture anyone wanting slightly more than the Mail.
* Many may be unaware of the political orientation of what they read.
* Right-wing newspapers are better at attracting readers or advertisers, by using scary exciting headlines, or by confirming prejudices, or by avoiding a fair representation that may be uncomfortable. (are those reasons compatible with each other?)

More suggestions? Yes, sign up to the campaign for Media Democracy (Media Reform Coalition) to support media plurality.