Leaders’ debates lose media interest

The 2015 General Election leaders’ debates have attracted less than half the level of media interest than they did in 2010, researchers at Loughborough University have found.

The greater frequency of the debates and the lack of a clear victor from each have also significantly reduced their news value.

Academics from the University’s Communication Research Centre (CRC) are conducting a real time news audit of the 2015 General Election campaign, lifting the lid each week on what media coverage the parties, their policies, MPs and their partners are securing.

They have carried out news audits for every General Election since 1992, enabling them to track reporting patterns and identify any changes.

“The novelty of the 2010 Leader Debates guaranteed them wall to wall coverage,” explains Dr Dominic Wring, one of the research leaders. “By contrast, the 2015 Debates have been at more dispersed intervals across the campaign. This has made it more difficult for them to dominate and shape the news agenda to the same extent.

“Furthermore, recent 2015 Debates have not provided the kind of clear narrative that emerged five years ago with the outbreak of so-called ‘Cleggmania’.  The Lib Dem leader’s convincing triumph in that first encounter in 2010 changed the dynamic of the subsequent campaign. By contrast no clear victor emerged in the conflicting polling as to who had ‘won’ the first Debate in 2015.”

The team’s full research findings and methodology can be viewed here.


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