Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The dire state of conservative media in Britain

Has the credit crunch disappeared overnight? Has the threat of Islamic terrorism receded to the point where it is no longer realistic? Have our energy concerns suddenly been alleviated by the discovery of some source of free, everlasting power? Has the knife culture which has seen the slaughter of young men and children on our streets evaporated?

No - but don't let those things get in the way of the real issues of today. Namely, John Sergeant on Strictly Come Dancing.

The Telegraph's comment section devotes no fewer than four items to the portly political commentator's hoofing on the reality show today. In God's name why? I have to admit that I haven't actually bothered to read them and they may actually be metaphorical - perhaps somehow demonstrating that John Sergeant's survival on SCD is somehow indicative of how western civilization can win the war on terror .... but I doubt it.

I find this sort of tabloid nonsense in the comment section of what used to be a serious newspaper very depressing. If I wanted to read this sort of garbage I'd go to the Sun or Star - but from the Telegraph I want proper comment about proper issues - not celebrity gossip and tittle tattle.

I still turn to the Telegraph website in the hope that I'll find it has gone back to its roots. I keep hoping that I'll stumble across a new Steyn, O'Rourke or Dalrymple. I keep my fingers crossed that the former champion of the conservative way will rediscover what conservatism is all about - and I keep getting disappointed.

The trouble is, The Telegraph is the only proper newspaper us right wingers have. There isn't any other newspaper which bothers to even pretend to be conservative and with the Telegraph sliding inexorably towards the left the future for conservative journalism in this country is bleak.

I can't believe that there isn't a demand for it. Conservative media in the USA flourishes - conservative talk radio dominates the genre over there even if the main newspapers all follow the liberal line, but over here conservatism in the media is dying a slow lingering death.

I know the Mail and Express are, supposedly, conservative - but I've never really found either of those particularly satisfying. They are, however, successful - which makes me wonder why it is that the conservative broadsheets have abandoned the right. The Telegraph should be aware of the fact that progressive liberal newspaper market is already over saturated - so why try and move in on it?

I can only think that the broadsheets - the main business of which is political news and comment - reflect our political system. And as that is dominated entirely by the liberal left it is therefore not surprising that every one of them should drift toward the ideology of the party they support. The Telegraph is Conservative, not conservative, and therefore gravitates towards the Cameronian brand of conservatism which, as most of us are aware, is just progressive liberalism with a posh accent.

Us conservatives need a proper conservative newspaper. The market is crying out for one, but there is nothing to fill the gap. Until something comes along the British right wing will have to rely on the blogosphere.


North Northwester said...

Stan, you're looking at half of the answer, right now.
Why should I wait a day for the next Steyn or a week for the next Boris or Dalrymple, and get my hands inky doing so?
Now, I've been a Telegraph reader, man and boy, since 1977 and I share your disappointment in its new powder-blue editorial policy, but whether that's down to the loss of Lord Black, or pandering to the Cameroons, I don't know.
But why should I encumber myself with pages of jobs and recipes and sport if I want political news and comment? Since you posted this, you've added the Orwell thing and the Somaliland post. Can't see the press adding value to my life so fast and with such variety, somehow.
I miss the old Torygraph, though.

I shouldn't knock the Daily mail, though. Our kind of ideas need airing in every place and at every opportunity in the culture wars if we're ever going to win back some measure of freedom and decency from our governors.
It isn't going to happen because of those who own the schools, the universities, the BBC, the ministries, much of the church...

Stan said...

The blogosphere is vital, nnw - but there are millions of people out there who don't read blogs or even political magazines like Total Politics or The Spectator. They get their political news - and with it their ideology - from TV and newspapers.

I don't know what sort of readership most blogs get - my blog manages barely a 1000 hits a week - but I would guess that even the best and most often read blogs manage no more than 50,000 - 100,000 hits a week and many of those will be accidental. A newspaper gets double the readership than that every day so has far more impact. Conservatism (small c) needs a decent flag bearer for its ideas and there isn't one left now.

I wasn't intending to be disparaging of the Daily Mail - it's a growing paper and it is easy to see why - but it's not a paper I personally find particularly engaging. I have no problem with its political standpoint - it's the reams of celebrity garbage, articles about "me and my facelift" and that sort of tabloid crap which I don't enjoy.

I used to be a Guardian reader, then switched to The Times and then the Telegraph - Mrs Stan is and always has been a Daily Mail reader though.

North Northwester said...

'Conservatism (small c) needs a decent flag bearer for its ideas and there isn't one left now.'
I do agree - my points weren't all pro -internet and anti-Old Media.

I grew up reading my mum's Daily Mail until my late teens when they had the Telegraph around in the sixth form - Winter of Discontent, IMF, 1979 and bang! I was away with the Tories. Worth it in those days - she got things done.

I really really agree with you about the conservative flag being flown everywhere, but I'm just not sure if the groups we need to reach are going to be open to print news media as such. Beyond the women-friendly tabloids you mentioned above, where is there room or demand for, say, another daily publication which stresses the physical danger on our streets and the risks to our children from feral youths? How would such coverage make itself attractive to busy mothers and professional women - many of whom draw a living from the Welfare State? I'm not saying it's impossible - I just haven't figured out how it might work yet.
We need TV and radio and film and books to make our kind of points as well as overt editorialising in bannered conservative publications: when did you last see a generous businessman portrayed on the telly, or a sympathetic Christian who wasn't antiwar on a Greenpeace activist on film?

We may have to trust to the market, here, and hope for example that the right-wing bloggers and other traditionalists become sufficiently popular on-line that newspaper editors take them on into the dead tree press. Doesn't Ian dale write for the broadsheets - I don't know as I don't buy them for reasons I mentioned above.

Given the Labour victory at Glenrothes weeks after Mr. Brown bankrupted the country, I think we may have a long time out of power trying to answer your question.

Perhaps a co-ordinated letter/email campaign to teh Telegraph pointing out how much more responsive the blogs are?