A man is interviewed by members of the media holding microphones

Election media analysis shows Starmer securing more press and TV coverage than Sunak – with Farage third

  • Conservatives and Labour dominate press and TV news
  • Labour secured significantly more TV coverage, with broadcasters focussing on internal disagreements over Diane Abbott’s candidacy
  • Nigel Farage steals the show for coverage of the minor parties
  • Reform UK only political party to feature in more ‘good news’ than ‘bad news’
  • The first of four reports by Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) analysing media coverage of the General Election

As in previous elections, it remained a two-horse race for press and broadcast coverage in the first week of the 2024 General Election, with the Conservatives and Labour dominating.

Whilst Labour received significantly greater levels of television news attention (46%) compared with their Conservative counterparts (30%), a lot of the additional coverage focussed on internal disagreements over Diane Abbott’s candidacy. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer topped the table for press mentions with 235 across television and printed media (40.2%). 

Rishi Sunak was second with 217 (37.2%) with Nigel Farage in third - 93 mentions (15.9%). Lib Dem party leader Ed Davey's campaign antics got him to ninth place with 21 appearances (3.6%). 

But in a shift from the 2019, it wasn’t just Labour attracting high levels of adverse news, with the Conservatives also coming under fire – even among newspapers normally renowned for their pro-Tory leanings. Only the Daily Express and the Daily Mail gave the Conservatives a more positive coverage.  

The Sun and The Times, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, reported a lot of negative issues about both main parties across the week. 

In fact, Reform UK was the only political party to feature in more ‘good’ news than ‘bad’, with Nigel Farage stealing the show. The Reform Party was the third most prominently featured party in the press (10%) with returning leader Nigel Farage accounting for most of these appearances. 

Speaking about the report’s findings, David Deacon, Professor of Communication and Media Analysis, said: “At the start of the week, the Liberal Democrats’ photo-ops on paddle boards and water slides weren’t making much of a media splash, with reporting dominated by a two-party squeeze. 

“Nigel Farage’s shock entrance to the campaign shook the media agenda up completely. In recent days, his media visibility has approached that of Sunak and Starmer, and pushed immigration/ migration to the forefront of the media agenda.” 

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

  • Liberal Democrats have only been present in 2% of newspaper items 
  • Labour representatives featured heavily in the data showing which political figures appeared most in the news, taking over half of the places in the Top 10 
  • Female politicians account for only a third of the Top 20 most prominent political figures in the media. The Greens’ Carla Denyer, the only female party leader (excluding Northern Ireland), does not appear on the list 
  • Taxation was the most prominent policy-oriented issue of the campaign during the first week. Its prominence is linked to the high-profile dispute between the Conservative Party and Labour over Rishi Sunak’s claim that Labour’s spending plans would increase tax by £2,000 per household 

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 24/74

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