As with yesterday the Comprehensive Spending Review is the only game in town and subsequently it is a little hard to discuss the paper’s choice of sources. They almost exclusively use the CSR document and George Osborne’s speech as the base of their articles and many just summarise Wednesday’s announcements. What is interesting, however, is how they use the same data and speech to appeal to their audiences and breathe life into a dead story.
The Guardian – “Axe Falls on the Poor”. Unusually for The Guardian there is a comment piece on the front page, with a strong criticism of the government’s cuts from Polly Toynbee. She accuses the coalition government of being a “glee club” with “unsuppressed smirks of satisfaction.” While her picture is above the article and its is clearly by-lined, the paper is clearly stating its stance on the cuts. The main article, by Patrick Wintour and Larry Elliot, is equally evocative news writing, opening with the phrase “George Osborne drove his axe deep into the heart of the British state yesterday.” Surprisingly, however, they have not mentioned the fact that the CSR’s own facts suggest the measures will hit the poorest 10% worst.
The Times – “Osborne’s remedy” by Roland Watson and Sam Fleming. The rather supine headline is followed by the standfirst: “Welfare benefits slashed, councils hacked back but pensioners protected.” However the main picture, a cartoon by Helen Brookes, mocks the chancellor a little. The article itself is a little colourless, basically just a run through of all the announcements made that day.
The Telegraph – While the title “Cuts leave middle class £10,000 worse off” is obviously playing to its audience the idea of households earning over £48,000 a year being losing £2,500 a year for the next four years is a novel take on the news. It also takes another interesting angle by suggesting that women could be disproportionately affected by the cuts, as child benefit changes and an earlier than expected rise in the state pension for women. A strong lead story.
The Financial Times leads with “Osborne heads into the unknown,” calling the CSR Britain’s biggest gamble in a generation. The phrase “The chancellor was cheered by Conservative MPs” is used cleverly at the beginning of the second paragraph to suggest that the paper is on side. While it is merely a statement of fact, it is a value-laden one. Unlike the other papers, the FT quotes other sources than Osborne with both David Frost and Alistair Darling throwing in their opinions.
The Independent – “Fasten your seatbelts, Britain” has a similar photo to the FT of George Osborne being driven away after giving his speech. The two standfirsts are “Benefit claimants, pensioners and public sector workers are hit hardest by Osborne’s cuts” and “Treasury’s own figures show poorest are among biggest victims of austerity measures.”
If you only read one: The Telegraph shades it tonight