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What have we learnt from the 鈥榤edia鈥 election?

  • Taxation reigned supreme in General Election media coverage, with the NHS, housing, the environment and social care receiving little attention.
  • Press and TV news was dominated by the two main parties, with the Liberal Democrats and the SNP seeing a drop in media coverage compared to 2019.
  • In contrast, the Reform party gained markedly more media exposure than their predecessor, the Brexit Party.
  • This was a 鈥榤ansplaining鈥 media election, with male voices dominating.
  • The final report by 海角社区 University鈥檚 Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) analysing media coverage of the 2024 General Election.

The 2024 General Election media campaign has been dominated by talk of taxation, the electoral process, scandal and sleaze.

The Conservative’s contested claim that Labour’s taxation plans would cost families £2,000 rumbled on in the media, as did Sunak’s early D-Day departure.

The focus on these topics has been at the expense of other key areas that many would consider to be of public concern - such as the NHS, housing, the environment and social care.

In terms of party prominence, the 2024 media campaign was more occupied by the two main parties than the 2019 General Election. Conservative and Labour sources accounted for 66% of all political party appearances on the main TV news bulletins and 85% in the national weekly press (in both cases up 2 % for the GE2019 measure).

The most significant difference for the 2024 election is how the remaining scraps of coverage were divided between the other parties. The two-party squeeze is always most evident in national press coverage, but even in TV news, several of the other parties found themselves on thinner rations than before.

The Liberal Democrats’ media presence reduced as did the SNP. In contrast, the Reform party gained markedly more media exposure than their predecessor, the Brexit Party. Whereas in GE2019 the Brexit Party accounted for 7% of party appearances on TV and 5 % in the press, these figures respectively increased to 10 % for TV and 9 % for newspapers in 2024.

The increased profile of Reform, and in particular its leader, Nigel Farage is further underlined by data on the most prominent political figures in the media campaign. Here Farage is consistently ranked third, behind Starmer and Sunak, over the course of the election campaign.

Yet again 2024 has been a ‘mansplaining’ media election, with male voices dominating. Comparisons with equivalent figures for GE2019 show some areas where women’s representation has increased but the pattern is uneven and, in some areas, has regressed. As in 2019, only 1 in 5 of the politicians featured in coverage of the 2024 campaign were female.

Speaking about the team’s final report, David Deacon, Professor of Communication and Media Analysis said: “The Conservative party wanted to foreground debates about taxation in the campaign and to some degree they succeeded. But if they won this battle, they lost the media war. Mistakes, controversies, and mishaps always have cut through in election news reporting and these problems defined the reporting of the Conservatives’ campaign from the outset. For large sections of the election, the Tories couldn’t even get on message let alone stay on message.”

The team’s full report and methodology can be found on the University’s dedicated 2024 General Election website.  

Results in the report are derived from detailed content analysis of news coverage of the election, compiled by experts in the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture. The research team has conducted news audits for every General Election since 1992.

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 24/92

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