They\’re better at it basically.
Among the phenomena he examined were the relentless trivialisation implicit in soundbite politics, the obsessive insistence that every political issue – no matter how complex – has only two sides and the tendency to treat every political controversy as if it were a football game and every election a horse race. But, en passant, Fallows also highlighted an equally disturbing trend – towards market-driven news: that is, news agendas that are driven not by some professional assessment of what\’s important and relevant, but by research into what viewers like and respond to. Put crudely, such an approach leads to news programming that plays down politics and economics in favour of coverage of crime, celebrity and sport. News-U-Like, as it were.
For, you see, every media organisation has always done this. No, they don\’t go off and persuade peeps of the nobility and purity of certain ideas or actions that the media producers independently determine. Rather, they try to find out what people are already thinking and thus chase those prejudices.
Yes, this really does mean that there are millions who think the Daily Mail way.
But it also means that organisations like The Guardian are chasing a certain segment of the population who think in a certain way. And that\’s where there can be a certain amusement: what is it that the group of people The G is chasing seem to believe? Something we might be able to divine from what the pieces say, the prejudices that the articles seem to be pandering to?
And in that paragraph we can see at least some of it. The idea that an organisation might exist to produce what the punters want rather than what the producers might want to produce: good grief, what horrors! Why, it\’s almost common, like being in trade!
Which, when you think about it, is the rather hysterical reaction of many Guardianistas to such ideas. Rather an English, upper middle class reaction too, almost Edwardian in fact. We must tell the proles what is good for them, insist upon it in fact. And certainly not think about money or profits, that\’s just grubby. And The Guardian\’s chosen audience, the ones they temper the paper to appeal to, are those who think that way.
Which leads us to an interesting conclusion: the very way they write the paper shows that they understand this entirely. But the trick only works if they can claim to be doing this from some higher motive rather than doing what absolutely everyone has always done: pander to hte prejudices of some portion of the population and thereby profit.