Printed newspaper circulation is certainly in sustained, long-term decline, even if likely to hang on in some form at much-reduced levels. Whether the political influence that newspapers have is in quite such a decline is another matter, not only because of the rise of their websites and apps, but also because of the way in which newspapers still set so much of the media’s agenda.
It’s best illustrated by the late night and early morning newspaper reviews so common on TV and radio. Twice a day they hand over the decision on what is important to the newspapers, reporting what a different medium has decided to prioritise instead.Before newspapers went online, newspaper reviews served a helpful purpose for viewers and listeners. They provided a convenient summary of something that was otherwise hard to find out save for the small minority who worked in an office which got in all the day’s newspapers. Now, however, it’s so easy to look at different newspaper websites, seeing what different stories each is running, that the benefit is much reduced.
But you know what would be convenient? A round-up in the morning newspapers of what last night’s TV news lead stories were, because flicking across news websites is far, far easier than tracking what the lead stories are on the TV news bulletins. Given how often that varies between them, that would be a really handy, convenient summary.
It would also, of course, run completely against the media habit of seeing newspapers as the daily agenda setters whose choices need reporting.
But habits don’t have to be permanent…