The methodology behind our weekly ‘real-time’ news audits of the 2019 UK General Election. How it's funded, the methods we use and what is coded.


The Centre for Research in Communication and Culture’s analysis of national news coverage of the 2019 General Election is funded by Loughborough University.


The weekly ‘real-time’ news audits present statistical evidence about trends in national television and print news outlets throughout the campaign. These measures are based on scrutiny and coding of news content by the University’s research team. This approach has two key advantages over automated coding of web content:

  • Analysis of published and broadcast news reports (rather than their web equivalents) remains the most robust indication of the editorial values and priorities of news organisations, because of the greater space limitations and greater competition for editorial presence.
  • Non-automated coding of news is the most reliable way for capturing more complex themes and evaluations in news reporting. (NB Inter-coder reliability checks have been conducted for all measures.)

What is coded

The team code any ‘item’ in its sample frame that makes a clear reference to the 2019 UK General Election. An ‘item’ is defined as follows:

For television

An item begins the moment a newsreader or presenter introduces a topic. In most cases, this will then lead into a filed report from a journalist or an interview. The item ends either when: (1) The programme returns to the reader or presenter after the conclusion of the filed report/ interview, or (2) another filed report, clearly authored by a different journalist, segues onto the end of the first report.

For newspapers

In the main, items have their own headline. However, there may be occasions when a separate article has been tagged on to the end of another. On these occasions they are deemed as separate items.

Our sample

The team code all relevant editorial content in TV programmes sampled (see below). For newspapers the team code all election related news items that appear: on the front page, the first two pages of the domestic news section, the first two pages of any specialist section assigned to the coverage of the campaign and the pages containing and facing papers’ leader editorials.

Sampling commences on 7 November 2019. Our sample focuses on weekday election news coverage in:

UK-wide television news

  • Channel 4 News 7-8pm
  • Five News Tonight 6.30-7pm
  • Sky News 8-8.30pm
  • BBC1 10-10.30pm
  • ITV 10-10.30pm

UK-wide newspapers

  • The Guardian
  • The I
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • The Times
  • The Financial Times
  • The Daily Mail
  • The Daily Express
  • The Mirror
  • The Sun
  • The Star