Up or down? Jeremy Corbyn’s media profile

01 Jan 1970 1:00 am

Corbyn canters home

In the initial stages of the contest the MP for Islington North was a 100-1 outsider with several bookmakers, although his comments to The Islington Tribune on entering the race may have suggested that he was more in touch with the mood of many in the Labour Party than the odds suggested.  He said:  "This decision is in response to an overwhelming call by Labour Party members who want to see a broader range of candidates and a thorough debate about the future of the party. I am standing to give Labour Party members a voice in this debate". Corbyn took the election by storm and won out with an unprecedented share of the vote.

Media interest – good and bad

Corbyn's triumph precipitated unprecedented media interest, partly natural curiosity about the new leader, part prompted by Corbyn's historical stance on a number of issues and partly driven by the new leader's decisions around major and minor issues.

Just two days after his election the Labour leader did not sing the national anthem at a Battle of Britain remembrance service in London, spiking further media interest. Corbyn's new approach to Prime Ministers Questions in the House of Commons (asking members of the public to write in with questions that they wanted answering) further garnered media interest.  Nor has this interest shown signs of slowing down.  At the weekend the Leader of the Opposition faced a new row around his position on the renewal of the Trident nuclear defence programme.

Outperforming the Prime Minister?

Looking at the media rollercoaster first two months as Leader of the Opposition, LexisNexis' Nexis Analyser highlights that Jeremy Corbyn's media profile has consistently outperformed that of the Prime Minister David Cameron.  Since 19th September (deliberately chosen as one week after the election of Corbyn as leader to remove the initial media interest), the Labour leader has received far more media profile than the PM.  The week when this was most marked was when Corbyn delivered his first speech as leader of Labour on 29th September.  That week Corbyn was referenced in more than 500 national newspaper articles, compared to less than 200 referencing Cameron.  More recently the gap has dropped but it is still significant.

media sources

uk national press

Of course this is not universally good news.  Several newspapers have taken the opportunity to pick up on a perceived gaff or slight from the new Labour leader and publish stories to back up their position that Corbyn is unelectable.  Unsurprisingly perhaps, the Guardian has published by far the most articles referencing Corbyn (more than 600 in an eight week period) followed by The Daily Telegraph.  It is unlikely that the tone of articles in each publication will be similar.

What can we learn from this?  If you believe the adage "all publicity is good publicity" then the national media are currently doing Jeremy Corbyn a huge favour.  His profile was non-existent with the public before his election win and the sustained press interest will keep his profile high.  What is certain is that if Corbyn continues to generate more media interest than the Prime Minister, whether positive or negative, very few people will not have formed some kind of an opinion on him by the next election.

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