Ian Monk: Media own this general election

It's the most important general election for decades - and that's just for the media, never mind the politicians.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

New media battalions are ranged against traditional media in the fight for influence. Battle lines are drawn between competing tabloids and broadsheets and the broadcasters' scrap for audience share is relentless.

Politicians generally appear constrained after the shaming of the last rotten Parliament at the hands of the media. The media, on the other hand, are in full cry.

Broadcasters waste no opportunity to plug the leaders' TV debates and their unwavering gameshow conceit that they hold the keys to Downing Street as the prize for the best performance on their show.

Sky's Adam Boulton is a prime example. His knowledgeable commentary on every aspect of the election runs seamlessly into boisterous plugs for the upcoming Sky debate. The fact that it is one of three leaders' TV debates - with ITV's first - is never mentioned.

Meanwhile pundits, paper reviewers and pollsters flood the airwaves. All display a confidence that the politicians seem to lack. It's almost as if the deal has been done. The media demolished the reputation of Parliament and politics over the scandal of MPs' expenses. Now they are the arbiters of the new order.

The tabloid agenda is equally dominated by the election. Media combatants have much to gain - and vast amounts to lose. Can anyone imagine the loss of face for The Sun should it turn out to have backed a loser in 'Cam'? All those favours and scoops it could have expected from an incoming Conservative administration could end up instead with the ailing but endlessly Labour-loyal Daily Mirror.

Meanwhile, new media evangelists stake out their claims for the power of Facebook, Twitter etc to 'energise' support. And yet as soon as anyone says anything vaguely interesting/controversial or offensive on Twitter, they are dumped as a candidate.

It's endlessly fascinating - not least because of the perils that such media dominance of the political process may hold for democracy.

- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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