Channel 4 News anchor Jon Snow said today tabloid newspapers suffered a ‘dreadful election’as a result of the focus on the televised leaders’ debate.
Snow said coverage of the debates in tabloid newspapers ignored polling results indicating the success of Nick Clegg to instead declare winners in tune with their loyalties.
Despite the TV debates dominating election coverage and gaining ‘formidable [audience] numbers”, Snow described them as ‘wretched’in an address to the Westminster Media Forum and said they led to a lack of engagement with the press over policy.
‘There were three debates and the lifeblood drained out of the campaign. There was almost no other campaigning,’he said.
‘For those of us who have covered campaigns for 30 or 40 years there has always been a process.
‘You go to the parties each morning and there would be somebody to say something. It would be housing one day, foreign policy the next. [This time] there was nothing.”
Snow then turned his ire on the tabloid newspapers, criticising their coverage of in the run up to 6 May.
‘The tabloids had a dreadful election because they had nothing to report,’he said.
‘All there was the wretched TV debates. What did they [tabloids] do? They told their readers that the viewers were wrong. When the view had thought that somebody had won they were then told by the media, the tabloids, they were wrong.
‘There was a marvellous moment [after the first debate] were the Daily Mirror said Brown had won and The Sun said that Cameron had won despite the polls saying Clegg had won.”
Despite the election being dominated by televised coverage, Snow said that TV news had not ‘moved with the times”, suggesting that his own show had lost around 13 per cent of its audience.
However, TV news did not ‘need to put ourselves into a corner’as many were now using the internet to watch bulletins and, critically, advancing forms of new media where now even more dependent on content producers than a decade ago.
‘Google didn’t send reporters to Bolton. Google did not put a helicopter up to chart Gordon Brown going to The Palace,’he said.
Snow said that different media forms were fusing creating ‘intersections of interest’and that TV companies needed to do more to harness the potential of the internet;
The development of new technologies he added, had led journalism to be in a ‘better place than it had ever been”.
He said: ‘Welcome to the golden age of journalism. This is the best time to be a journalist, without a doubtâ€¦because we can do a job that is both a pivotal element of the society in which we live and the political life in which that society functions.
‘There is a greater degree of democracy in journalism than there has ever been. There are still many challenges ahead but at least there is something of a conversation going on that means there is no longer any dictatorial capacity.
‘You can complain about ownership and dominance but you can’t complain that the citizen can’t rock the boat.
‘The citizens are rocking the media’s boat every day. The idiots are falling off the deck, the incapable ones are being drowned but the good ones are surfacing and thriving.’