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Labour courted media too often; BRITAIN.

TONY Blair yesterday acknowledged New Labour spent too much time in its early years trying to influence media coverage.

The Prime Minister suggested the approach had appeared necessary because of the "ferocious hostility" towards Labour.

But he accepted that the "inordinate attention" paid to courting and persuading the media had fuelled cynicism.

Mr Blair accepted the relationship between politicians and the press had always been fraught, but said it had intensified in recent years.

He claimed there was less balance in journalism now than 10 years ago, but he admitted his own "complicity".

"We paid inordinate attention in the early days of New Labour to courting, assuaging, and persuading the media," Mr Blair said in a speech to Reuters.

"In our own defence, after 18 years of opposition and the, at times, ferocious hostility of parts of the media, it was hard to see any alternative."

The Prime Minister argued the decline was largely due to the 24-hour news agenda and fragmentation of the market.

But he said "impact" was now often more important than balance in a way that was harming the public's view of public life.

Fierce competition for stories meant the modern media now hunted "in a pack".

"In these modes it is like a feral beast, tearing people and reputations to bits," he said. "But no-one dares miss out."

But he insisted there was still a genuine desire for impartial news coverage.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 13, 2007
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