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Corbyn and the commentariat

Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to Labour Party conference has not gone down well with all the commentariat. Even the Guardian was at best grudging inits leader today, and positively spiteful in its immediate response, written by Andrew Sparrow.

Curiously, no-0ne has asked if there might be process related reasons why the commentariat don’t like Corbyn’s style. As the Guardian pointed out, sniffily, the speech ‘trashed almost the entire playbook of modern media-savvy political orthodoxy, with no conventional clap lines, few soundbites, and in all likelihood not a single focus-group-tested theme.’

Part of that media savvy playbook is, of course, the courting of the commentariat. In previous years the process has started almost as soon as parliament goes into summer recess. Journalists would be offered titbits, selected soundbites or insights into the likely themes of the elader’s speech. In turn, the privileged commentators would retail these anecdotesto their readers as if there was some great journalistic skill involved in cutting and pasting them from the emails.

Of course, there is a certain skill in cultivating the right kind of contact book to enable a journalist to reach the right person who might,if the journalist is seen as friendly or important, dispense some access to the leader’s thought processes.On the other hand, it’s also posible to achieve the same degree of access just by, for instance, being in the Oxford University Conservative Association with the next generation of politicians. As such, it’s less of a skill than some would claim it to be, because it’s conditional; no matter how much you practice if your face doesn’t fit, or you don’t comply with the wishes of the politicians, you don’t accomplish what you set out to achieve.

For a whole generation of commentators, ditching the playbook means they have to learn a new skillset. They may not like it.


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This entry was posted on September 30, 2015 by in Uncategorized.

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