Media Centre

Press releases

US flag and the white house.

Image courtesy of Getty Images.

US election 2020: a toolkit for ‘democracy-worthy’ coverage for journalists

As election day approaches in the US, journalists around the world are working in the most challenging environment of their lifetimes.

This will be no ordinary election, not only because COVID-19 has changed the way Americans vote, with 45 million ballots already cast by mail, but also because the US president, Donald Trump, has repeatedly challenged the validity of the vote and declined to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses.

While his Republican party prepares blanket legal challenges anticipating an election loss, a bitter political battle is brewing in the Supreme Court, the country’s highest legal institution, which played a key role in adjudicating the 2000 election.

All of which means that how journalists cover the run-up and, especially, the aftermath of the election will be crucial for American democracy – and the ideal of democracy around the world. What we demand of journalists, and what news we decide to read and share, will be essential as well.

Both the press and the public must answer hard questions: how to discuss controversies around the vote and what to do if the result is unclear, or a candidate does not concede? And what if civil unrest ensues after the vote?

Thankfully, decades of research and expertise can help guide decisions in these unprecedented times.

British media are very popular and influential in the US and they can play an important role in shaping how the American public will interpret the election and its aftermath. The BBC could well play a big role. Research has shown that 58% of Americans say they trust the broadcaster and 12% get at least some of their news from it each week.

UK newspapers also have the potential to be influential players: in March 2020 the Guardian US recorded more than 114 million unique visits while the Daily Mail online attracts an estimated 73 million monthly unique visits in the US. Meanwhile, most readers of The Economist are in North America.

And the influence won’t stop there – given their international prestige and recognition, British media are likely to shape news coverage of the US election all around the world...

Professor Cristian Vaccari, an expert in political communication in the University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture, discusses the Election Coverage and Democracy Network's 18-page resource guide, which he helped construct, and ‘democracy-worthy’ coverage in the Conversation.

Read the full article here

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 20/171

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2020 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 6th in The UK Complete University Guide 2021.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.

Categories

Categories

WorldPoliticsSocietyResearchWar and security

Resources

Contacts

Megan Cox

PR and Communications Officer

Telephone: 01509 222224

Media training resources for Loughborough University staff