— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) February 9, 2015
And internet paywalls mean some papers have even less influence
In yesterday’s Indy on Sunday (circulation down from 153,975 in January 2010 to 97,646 last month) John Rentoul was questioning the wisdom of the Miliband brother that he didn’t support for the LAB leadership in 2010 apparently taking on the “Tory press”
Rentoul noted that Ed is currently on the end of some awful coverage which, no doubt, will intensify in the next three months. He’s correct about that but does it matter?
Has the national press simply lost its political potency?
Everybody’s aware that, as can be seen in the table above, sales have dropped sharply almost right across the board. The Sun, the big daddy of them all when it comes to perceived political influence, has seen a sales slump that has just taken it below the 2 million. Compare that with the 3 million it was selling at the last election and even higher circulations of general elections gone by. Other papers have experienced similar fall-offs.
I don’t often take rush hours trains into London these days but when I do the only printed papers that fellow passengers appear to be reading is the freebie Metro with the majority paying most attention to their smart-phones or tablets.
Ah, I hear you say, what about the power of the internet? Is not there where the national press is still a force? Yes and no. The Daily Mail is, I believe, the biggest newspaper website in the world while the Guardian gets a mass of traffic. They are both free. Several other papers – the FT, the Telegraph, The Times and The Sun – are now behind paywalls and only reach the “converted” – those ready to sign up for monthly subscriptions.
I’ve seen it during the 11 years that I’ve run PB. In the early days my starting point before writing each morning’s post was to scan the websites of the national papers. No more. If there’s something significant it will be linked to by one of those I follow on Twitter or it will be posted on a PB discussion thread.
Maybe the Miliband calculation about the national press is a correct one.