Analysis: Mainstream media gripped by Jacinda-mania

Who knows if it will last, or if she can lead a Labour comeback (NBR's Rob Hosking maintains Grant Robertson would have been a better pick).

But after Jacinda Ardern was announced as their new leader, mainstream media went ga-ga.

Many of the same outlets who had been tearing strips off Andrew Little and his party were suddenly gripped by Jacinda-mania.

Within half an hour, Labour had got more positive coverage than it had in the past year with photos of its new leader splashed across home pages, and articles mainly pulling bullet points from her first speech as leader.

There was a lot of competition, but RNZ lead the pack with its home page going full-Adern.

"It would be very easy to under-estimate Jacinda Ardern," says commentator Matthew Hooton. 

"She does have a network into the media, the popular media, that National cannot reach."

Hooton sees Labour capitalising on its new leader's higher profile with some big-bang policy releases (or bribes as he calls them), including an announcement around free tertiary education from next year, and possibly higher Kiwi Saver subsidies (which he says Labour's survey company, UMR, is polling on right now).

He adds, "While I personally don’t rate her, that could be because I’m a grumpy old white man as the Twitterati would put it. Maybe it will work."

On this honeymoon day it is, at least. Here's a selection of MSM home pages from around midday:


A final point: traditionally, a surge by one politician — say, Winston Peters, has been mitigated to a degree when media get bored with the prevailing narrative and start to give the opposing side more play to balance things up, or restore interest. But in an age where stories are measured by clicks, the NZ First leader always rates, so expect non-stop Peters-on-high-rotate. Little did not rate. Going by today's traffic, Jacinda does. That's going to be a problem for the relatively colourless Bill English.

RELATED VIDEO: NBR View - from the newsroom floor: Labour's leadership change (including a flashback quote to Ardern's February 2017 interview with Susan Wood when she was asked if she wanted to be PM and replied, "I have no desire at all for that job. And I'm looking at you straight in the eye as I say it, Susan." How times change.)

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