Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Narrative and reality

Bob Piper has a piece discussing the change in media narrative identified by Mike Smithson at political betting.  Bob's main point is as follows:

The fact that the media are now homing in on the "Brown rescues Britain" story is only a counterbalance to the "Brown is a disaster" story they were running for the 12 months prior to that because Brown had embarrassed the media when he didn't call the general election they had all predicted. The impact of that massively influenced public opinion, and over the next six months, if the "recovery" story continues it will be interesting to see how the figures that Smithson and his fellow gamblers follow so avidly, start to turn round.

Well up to a point Lord Copper.  The thing is that media narratives require a basis in reality.  They can lead reality, they can even shape it a bit, but they can't create it out of nothing.  An example would be the deaths of Princess Diana and Jill Dando.  In the first case there was already a great public wave that the media caught, rode and encouraged.  In the second the same tricks were used, the same things written, but the public simply weren't as interested.  With Brown and Labour, for all the media emphasis on "Labour recovery" and "Brown saves the world" the wider public don't seem to have bought it.  And unlike most media themes, there will be some concrete evidence one way or the other: there's a by-election this week at Glenrothes.  We'll be able to see just to what extent this Labour recovery is a product of wishful thinking.  If Labour lose, expect to see a quick return to the 'Gordon's a loser' theme that was such fun between October last year and October this year.

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