By James Curran (eds.)
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Extra info for The British Press: a Manifesto
At the same time that this battle between alternative futures is being fought, the package which is now the modern newspaper, 'popular' or 'quality', will be likely to be further untied. Already the newspaper has been outdistanced by radio and television for speed of news and for actuality. It was against this background that it moved towards a 'magazine' type of package. With the remarkable growth of specialist magazines, all that remains as an advantage to the modern large-scale newspaper is the fact of the package itself: a multi-interest convenience which is then subject to crucial calculations of cost.
Against these limitations and restrictions, 'the press' fought a noble and heroic battle; and, in winning the 'right to publish' and the 'freedom to comment' it won an essential liberty on behalf, not only of its owners, but of the whole society. The creation of this 'fourth estate' is therefore part and parcel of the story of the great reforming, democratic liberalisation of, especially, the last century. Like the imposition of a universal 'rule of law', and other fundamental rights such as the 'freedom of assembly', it both marked the triumph of the reforming impulse, Newspapers, Parties and Classes 37 and the willingness of vested interest and power, when pushed, to yield to a more universal form of the democratic state.
This already dangerous situation is made worse by another consequence of the latest phase of press capitalism. Under the pressure of the economics of newspaper advertising, which has assumed an increasingly significant role in the finances of newspapers, there has been a marked cultural polarisation, within national daily newspapers, which seems to go against every other observable cultural trend. There are now virtually no national newspapers of the old 'middle' type, such as the News Chronicle.