12th March 2018
Linden Gregory from Grayling London’s Corporate and B2B team reflects on how the UK media used the snow in Britain to highlight their own political agenda.
If you didn’t notice, it snowed in London and across the country just over a week ago… Whilst it was definitely more than in my recent memory, it didn’t amount to the biblical blizzard you were led to believe by the press.
People across the UK struggled to get to work, with some train lines grinding to a halt in an inch of snow. PRs however faced a different challenge – cutting through a news cycle that had become obsessed with the weather. The convergence of storm Emma and the so-dubbed “beast from the east” squeezed stories which would have usually made front page news.
It was interesting and amusing to observe both the text-book and contrasting ways that different British media outlets chose to report the snow fall.
Most of the front pages painted a picture of sheer chaos across snow-stricken Britain. The Mirror ran with the memorable “RAGE OF THE BEAST” (in all capitals) and a picture of London being engulfed in an ominous black cloud. Meanwhile, the Star warned that “the killer cold is here till Easter”. The Sun went as far as invoking the book of Revelations, claiming it was “Emmageddon”.
This was all supported, of course, by the proof points of school closures, transport grid-lock and the Met Office issuing its most severe red alert weather warning.
Between the collective hype, each outlet made their political stance (and in some cases view of the current government) clear.
The Mail jumped on the opportunity to continue scrutiny of the government, as it emerged that Ministers had been tipped off about the cold spell a month in advance by a Met Office forecaster who boasted, “I got extra oil, food and logs in, knowing this was coming”.
A rare gas supply warning due to the freezing conditions prompted The Telegraph to defend the UK’s market-based energy system, explaining that “higher prices in times of surging consumptions” are just a “downside” of a working balance between supply and demand.
Conversely, The Guardian stuck to its usual agenda and was quick to point out the role climate change played in the uncommon warm spell in Siberia that pushed the cold air down to Europe.
The Financial Times even managed to tie-in a tangential reference to Brexit: a cartoon depicting a couple walking through the snowy countryside. One says: “I’m pretty sure the Irish border is around here somewhere”.
A change in weather could be considered by many to be non-news, but it gave the media an opportunity to break from covering Brexit and promote their own agenda through another story. If anything, it demonstrated that why, as critical news consumers, we should be mindful of the bias of each media outlet before forming our own views. Even if the story is about snow.
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