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Posted on Fri 4th Apr, 2014 in: Industry Comment, Influence, Newspapers by Tim Downs

Here in Leeds we call it Spring, but for much of the rest of the country, a mystical combination of Saharan dust and continental emissions has been causing havoc for most of this week - even forcing the Prime Minister to deviate from his daily routine and skip a morning run. That's why our influencer of the week is good old-fashioned smog (it's clearly much more exotic in the south). From endless coverage across the national newspapers to the new local TV station, London Live, delivering live updates from a murky Clapham Junction and a fuzzy Alexandra Palace, smog has been right at the top of the media's agenda. OK, so there is a serious side. The London Ambulance Service recorded a 14 per cent jump in emergency calls for help with breathing difficulties, asthma and heart problems, and areas such as Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire also reported spikes in calls. The smog was also blamed for grounding the Midlands' Air Ambulance. So with the flooding abated, we didn't have to wait too long for our next weather-related crisis to demand the attention of our most senior decision makers. Hence David Cameron and Boris Johnson calling the situation 'extraordinary' and asking for 'balance' - much to the annoyance of environmentalists and health experts. And with the 'Killer' smog allegedly set to be sticking around, it's a good job that we have our plucky British wartime spirit to fall back on. East Anglia remained 'undimmed' as the 'dreaded' smog fell on Ely, and even the Telegraph was offering us helpful advice on how to maintain our fitness regimes during such tough times. It's 'how best to exercise outdoors during this London smog' fashion blog reassured us that it was still possible to remain fit, flirty and fabulous amongst the haze. So, smog, for providing us with a new weather-related villain for our media to fixate on, and for your ability to clear up just in time for the weekend, you're our influencer of the week.

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