Newspapers can fend off the challenge from broadcasting and online competitors and stage a comeback in the face of dwindling circulations – associate editor at The Sun newspaper has told allmediascotland.
Trevor Kavanagh – who held the role of political editor at the London-based title for almost 25 years before becoming associate editor – stressed the continuing necessity for newspapers to dissect and deliver important information that television often fails to provide.
The claim followed an event at the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival focusing on the tactics of the traditional media in the face of political change.
Contributing editor to the Financial Times, John Lloyd, and Will Straw, founding editor of left-leaning political blog, Left Foot Forward, joined Kavanagh on the panel for the hour-long debate, ‘Split Hunters: Is Old Media Being Left Behind by the New Politics’.
While Kavanagh conceded certain individuals may perceive The Sun newspaper as a “tits and bum” tabloid, he remained resolute the red-top deals with voter issues more seriously on a routine basis than the broadcast media.
He told allmediascotland afterwards: “Television is a medium which covers events as they happen, in news terms, as opposed to having a theme.
“And so when you have a big event, like an election campaign or comparatively speaking 9/11, everybody turns their television sets on because it is happening before their very eyes.
“People are, in the election campaign, spending a lot of time watching television but they’re reading the newspapers at the same time. The media is a complimentary process and sometimes the television is on top and sometimes the newspapers are on top.
“But what newspapers of all colours and descriptions do – whether they are left, right or centre – is to present a viewpoint which represents those editorial positions.
“And so, over a period of time, if you are reading a couple of newspapers, you know a lot more about the political issue of the day – whether it is about immigration, Europe, welfare reform, or defense – than you would get by watching television.
“By the very nature of things, television is limited to a one or two minute slot in which someone has to encapsulate a very complicated story.”
And Kavanagh – who continues to contribute to the tabloid as a weekly political columnist – believes the printed press can engineer a comeback in spite of circulation falls.
He continued: “There is no doubt that we [the newspaper industry] are losing sales across the board, in this country and in Europe and all the Western media nations.
“But, newspapers will always have a role to play and I think, just like radio did once when they seemed to be threatened by television as we are now being threatened by the internet and others, we may well stage a comeback and people might return to newspapers. I hope that is a certainty.
“We still have a huge readership when you add up all the newspapers sold and read in Britain today.
“We had our heyday back in the post-war years but I think you can’t write us off yet.”