'Newspapers nationally influential'

June 22, 2012, 11:01 AM GMT+0

Journalism poll: Brits say newspapers have 'power & influence'; just 17% say power has waned

The British public believes that newspapers hold much influence over our national life, with some believing that influence has increased over the past decade, our poll for media and PR insight group Gorkana has found, despite the continuous decline in newspaper circulation over the same time.

  • Over four in five (82%) respondents said they thought that newspapers had "power and influence" over their readers
  • 32% thought newspapers had "a lot of power and influence"
  • And under half of that number (14%) thought newspapers had little or no power and influence

The results are even more clear-cut when it comes to newspapers’ influence over our political class.

  • When asked how much power and influence newspapers had over politicians, 85% said they thought newspapers did have power and influence over them, with nearly half saying it was "a lot"

Influence over past 10 years

The figures suggest that people's impression of newspaper influence may have increased over the past 10 years.

  • 44% of respondents thought newspapers had more influence than a decade ago
  • Compared to only 17% who thought it had waned
  • 27% agreed that newspapers "had a lot of influence and still do"

Gorkana reports that these results confirm a picture of a strong majority in the UK who are convinced of the power of the press.

Ethical journalism: Tarnished reputations?

When it comes to the ethics of journalism – elements of which are currently being investigated as part of the Leveson Inquiry into press standards ‒ the picture is more murky.

  • 44% agree that "underhand tactics are legitimate if they expose wrongdoing and are in the public interest"
  • But 44% also disagree with this

However, if it concerns breaking the law, and the regulation of the press in general, the feeling is clearer.

  • 68% believe that it is "never acceptable for journalists to break the law, no matter how important the story"
  • Compared to the 22% who disagree
  • 72% agreed with the statement: "The press is out of control and needs tighter regulation", whereas only 20% disagreed

However, it's not all bad for the journalism profession, as 64% thought "it was only a small minority of journalists who are tarnishing the reputation of other honest and hardworking journalists".

The results, from a nationally representative poll of 1,700 British people, were presented on Wednesday at a Gorkana panel debate that asked "Is the press losing its influence?"

Chaired by former BBC director general Greg Dyke, the panel also featured publisher and broadcaster Andrew Neil; director of journalism at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and contributing editor of the FT John Lloyd; former Sunday Express editor and media executive Sue Douglas; and Rt Hon David Davis MP.

See the survey details and full results