WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: Left and right turn on mayor

Press on the left and right rounded on Ken Livingstone over his spat with the Channel 4 Dispatches programme aired on 21 January.

The Guardian, the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard stuck knives into Livingstone's campaign to be re-elected as London's mayor. 'The mayor's impossible style has been encouraged by his personal power' (Guardian, 22 January).

The documentary was fronted by Martin Bright, political editor of the New Statesman, a position that fuelled his claim that 'a vote for Livingstone is a vote for a bully and a coward' (Evening Standard, 21 January).

The Standard highlighted Livingstone's 'shocking drinking habits' (22 January). Others alleged he was surrounded by Socialist Action supporters he used to break funding guidelines during the last election. The mayor's office called the source, Atma Singh, an 'embittered ex-employee' (Sunday Times, 20 January).

Support was rare, but Gordon Brown was reported as saying: 'He has a proven record of success' (Evening Standard, 21 January).

Analysis conducted by Echo Research from data supplied to PRWeek from NewsNow.



Increasing faster than tube fares, discussions around Ken Livingstone in the blogosphere shot up by almost 140% in the days after the Dispatches programme. However, unlike the newspapers, much of bloggers reaction and ire was directed at the programme itself rather than Livingstone.

Words such as ‘propaganda', ‘alarmism', ‘sensationalism', ‘scaremongering' and ‘unsubstantiated tripe' littered bloggers references to how far they believed Dispatches had strayed from good journalistic practice. But for every negative view on the programme, or the man himself, one could easily find a positive in opposition.

Some bloggers, like the papers, believed that the programme raised issues of real concern - the supporting clique, alleged irregularities in finances, his relations with extremist Islamics, his arrogance, and the fuel deal with Venezuelan dictator Chavez. Others, however, pointed to the good work, such as winning the Olympics and how the congestion charge and improvements to London's transport system are envied by many cities globally. Many felt the relationship with Chavez probably benefits Londoners - not something the papers trumpeted.

His drinking, of course, was a hot topic, although not in the outraged sense as that of the papers. Bloggers discussed the merits of drinking on the job, and unlike the newspaper journalists, openly admitting what they drank whilst working.

Sourced from over 70 million blogs by Nielsen Online www.nielsen-online.com



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