A selection of newspapers, stacked together.

Real-time General Election media analysis: Conservatives dominate press and TV coverage in week two of campaign – thanks to Sunak’s D-Day gaffe

  • Conservatives are the leading party in terms of press and TV coverage this week, but much of this is linked to Rishi Sunak’s early D-Day departure. In contrast, Labour's overall presence has substantially decreased.
  • The normally Tory sympathizing newspapers have been highly critical of the Prime Minister.
  • Tax was the major policy issue this week reflecting the Conservative contested claim that Labour would cost families £2,000 and opponents’ retort that taxes were at their highest levels in decades.
  • Nigel Farage remains the third most prominent political personality by some distance in this week’s coverage.
  • The second of four reports by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) analysing media coverage of the General Election.

Collectively the press has taken “a plague on both your houses” approach during the election campaign so far, but this week it is the Conservatives, not Labour, who have received more negative newspaper headlines.

Sunak’s early departure from the 80th D-Day anniversary commemorations saw the Conservatives dominate across press and TV – for all the wrong reasons – in week two. 

Even the normally Tory sympathizing newspapers have been highly critical of the Prime Minister, with only the Daily Express and the Daily Mail remaining loyal to the Conservatives. 

Keir Starmer has been much less prominent this week, saving Labour’s manifesto launch until later and standing back in the face of the fallout of the D-Day story. 

He remains the second most prominent political personality, appearing in 20.5% of TV broadcasts and press articles (down from 40.2% last week). In contrast Rishi Sunak featured in 31.7% in week two (a slight decrease from 37.2% in week one). 

Nigel Farage remained the third most prominent political personality by some distance in this week’s coverage, retaining his relative prominence in TV broadcasts at 11%, but the attention he garnered in the press fell from 17% to 12%. 

The election process – with a strong focus on the toxicity of political debate and internal party divisions – and taxation were the top issues covered by the media this week, accounting for over 50% of all topics. Other issues down the order include immigration, economy, standards and scandals and the NHS. Brexit and climate change remain elusive news topics. 

Speaking about this week’s report, Dominic Wring, Professor of Political Communication said: “Tax was by far the most prominent policy issue this week as debate intensified over claims and counter claims about the major parties' plans. Rishi Sunak was the main personality but much of this was in response to his D Day non-appearance. It did little to endear him to the press, which was actually more critical of the Tories than Labour this week.” 

Other highlights from the first of four reports by Loughborough University’sCentre for Research in Communication and Culture(CRCC) analysing media coverage of the General Election include: 

  • Reform UK continue to receive more TV and press coverage than the fourth largest party, the Liberal Democrats. Reform also remain the party that have received highest number of positive evaluations overall, although it is a modest total.  
  • Eight women made the ‘Top 20 most prominent political figures in the media campaign’ this week (compared to five last week). But the highest placed female politician, Rachel Reeves, at fourth received considerably less coverage than the three most prominent men. 
  • Labour has received a considerable amount of negative coverage in the Daily Express, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph. While the Daily Mirror remains staunchly loyal to the party, the only other title that has been more positive overall in its reporting of Labour has been the Financial Times. 
  • In TV coverage, the speaking time allocated to Keir Starmer more than halved since week one. Starmer’s lack of speaking time might well be an artefact of a strategy of refraining to interrupt one’s opponent during the difficult week Sunak has faced. 

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 CRCC. The research team has conducted news audits for every General Election since 1992.  

For regular updates follow @lboroCRCC on X.  

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 24/78

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