Outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ought to know a thing or two about the topic, says the relationship between the media and public figures of various stripes has deteriorated of late, owing in part to the proliferation of broadcast, online and print outlets, the decline of the newspaper industry, and an insatiable need to create “impact” at all costs.
He said fierce competition for stories meant that the modern media now hunted “in a pack.”
“In these modes it is like a feral beast, just tearing people and reputations to bits, but no-one dares miss out,” he said.
He said he had tried to have a dialogue with the media, through measures like on-the-record lobby briefings, monthly press conferences and the Freedom of Information Act.
But, he said: “None of it to any avail, not because these things aren’t right, but because they don’t deal with the central issue—which is how politics is reported.”
He said people in public life, from politics to business, sport, the military and charities, found that “a vast aspect” of their job now was coping with the media, “its sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity. At points it literally overwhelms.”
AP Photo / Akira Suemori, pool
Blair in the glare: The soon-to-be-former-PM says life in the spotlight sometimes “literally overwhelms” public figures.