Media coverage disparity

As the dust settles on the 2019 election, elected MPs journey to London for the new Westminster session; members of the Labour party in Scotland toss barbed words at one another over its future direction, whilst a number of high profile members call for it to back an independence referendum and even independence; articles are appearing with stories of Johnson gearing up to do many of the things that during the campaign he absolutely denied he would do.

As we await Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement this week about a second independence referendum and the passing of the Referendums Bill at Holyrood, it’s useful to spend a few minutes looking at the media coverage during the election campaign. Independence supporters will be aware that much of the coverage the SNP received in the media was in programmes where its representatives were talked over and given little opportunity to put their case without interruption, making the small percentage seem even smaller. For the Tories in particular much of their coverage was of spokespersons who were rarely challenged in their lies and misinformation.

The chart above is based on an analysis by Loughborough University of national TV and newspaper coverage of the election. It reveals stark differences in the amount of times each party has been represented. The analysis covers 1,843 election-related items in the weekday content (it doesn’t cover weekends when many political programmes are aired, or presumably programmes like BBC’s Question Time) of main national evening TV news programmes and the main news sections of all national paid-for newspapers from 7 November to 4 December (a week before polling when much campaigning in the media was ramped up). Results show Labour had the largest share of the coverage, with a Labour source, Jeremy Corbyn, or an ‘independent Labour’ representative recorded by the research team 43 percent of the time. The Conservatives are close behind in second place with 39 percent while the SNP has a mere 2.9%, about three quarters of that probably down to Nicola Sturgeon’s appearances in TV debates.

The full article can be read here.

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