Jeremy Corbyn is is offering exclusive access to regional journalists while shunning “largely hostile” national newspapers in a bid to get more positive election coverage for Labour, it has been claimed.
Recent campaign visits by the Labour leader have seen national lobby journalists sidelined in favour of local media and the broadcasting media, who are legally obliged to provide balanced coverage.
According to online news website Buzzfeed, the move amounts to a “concerted” media strategy ahead of next month’s vote.
Its political correspondent Jim Waterson said Labour hopes to secure “friendlier” coverage by meeting members of the public through walkabouts on the street and doing clips for “heavily regulated” TV news bulletins and local newspapers.
Jim highlighted Mr Corbyn’s campaign visit to Bedford on Wednesday, to which only local media outlets and a Press Association journalist were invited.
By contrast, Prime Minister Theresa May was criticised earlier this week for restricting access to local journalists during a visit to their patch.
Cornwall Live journalists claimed they had been banned from filming Mrs May’s visit to an industrial estate in Helston and that they were locked in a room to prevent them doing so.
Wrote Jim: “Theresa May is under attack for running a seemingly stage-managed general election campaign, where she is being kept well away from members of the public in favour of surrounding herself at campaign events with favourable print news outlets.
“Jeremy Corbyn seems to be taking a different approach: meeting members of the public through walkabouts on the street and doing clips for heavily regulated TV news bulletins and local newspapers, while purposely avoiding taking the largely hostile national print media with him.”
He added: “Wednesday’s Bedford trip could be considered a success for Corbyn: The people of town were pictured meeting the Labour leader without a scrum of print journalists, broadcasters showed coverage of him walking down the high street and guaranteed him airtime, and local newspapers wrote up the visit with a focus on local issues.”
Jim told HTFP: “Corbyn’s team are adopting an interesting strategy, which is as much about mitigating damage which could be done by the national press as it is about actively choosing to exclusively use local papers.
“But just look at the coverage they got a result – the Bedfordshire local news story was about Corbyn backing a local hospital rather than responding to the national agenda. That’s the sort of stories his team want, rather than another row about national issues.”
HTFP has asked the Labour Party for a comment.