No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money

Samuel Johnson

Oct 1, 2015

This cycle is not a revolution

There's only so much news to go round

Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of the Labour Party, represents a new kind of politics and is above spin. At least that’s what the Labour spinners are telling us.

I’m not sure there’s anything new in this. Wasn’t Tony Blair `a pretty straight sort of guy’? In fact, Tony Blair was up front about his PR operation and justified it in terms of modern journalism and the 24-hour news cycle, which now demands sophisticated news management.

It’s true – there’s nothing new about spinning. Politicians have been at it since the Ancient Greeks – if not before - and they always will. I would also argue that there’s not a great deal that’s new about the news cycle.

The 24-hour news cycle was supposedly a product of the internet age with online media being constantly updated, so that we, the news consumers, didn’t have to wait for the next newspaper edition or the next hourly bulletin.

The theory makes sense but the practice seems somewhat different.

As I distract myself from work throughout the day by flicking between (should that be clicking between?) various news website, I’m struck by how little they change. In fact I look at some papers’ websites in the evening and find they’re more or less the same when I log in again in the morning.

The fact is most newspapers have shed so many journalists that they haven’t got the resources to hunt out off diary stories but are reliant on the arrival of the next batch of press releases.

When I was growing up, long before the internet, my parents were news junkies. We took two morning national newspapers, a local evening paper, a weekly local paper, watched the six o’clock news and then the nine o’clock news and heard various radio bulletins throughout the day. Evening papers ran several editions and advertised any changes to major stories on billboards.

The 24-hour news cycle has been around since the advent of the railway and the telegram and it doesn’t seem to have speeded up much since – however they spin it.