UK election and Brexit campaign analysis
Increasing the accountability of major news providers by analysing their reporting of the 2015-19 UK General Elections and 2016 EU Referendum
Concerns about fake news and disinformation are reducing our faith in the media. Systematic monitoring of national news content has, therefore, never been more vital.
Our real-time analysis of national news coverage of the UK General Elections (2015, 2017 and 2019) and the EU Referendum (2016) is helping to address and redress this growing lack of confidence by enhancing journalists’ awareness of their professional practices, resulting in new editorial priorities and content.
It is also enabling key campaigners, policy makers and citizens to identify and evidence democratic deficiencies and develop new communication strategies.
Influencing the professional practice of journalists
- Senior journalists have approached us for data to assist in developing new lines of editorial enquiry about campaign dynamics.
- The Guardian has adopted our methodology to analyse print news.
- The BBC reduced its emphasis on process coverage in the 2017 General Election, our research having helped to highlight its overemphasis during the 2015 General Election.
- Our research has also shown persistent patterns of gender inequality in political campaign reporting. In the 2016 EU Referendum, prominent campaigners used our findings to highlight how male voices dominated early reporting, resulting in significant shifts in the subsequent dynamics and reporting of the referendum campaign.
Impact beyond journalism
- We have presented our findings to a range of influential stakeholders including Ofcom, the Welsh Assembly, and the French Embassy.
- We hosted major conferences after each campaign – successfully drawing together politicians, pollsters, journalists and academics – and post-campaign briefing sessions were organised at Parliament.
- Across the four campaigns, findings and data visualisations were shared extensively across social media, often by leading journalists and commentators – demonstrating the scale of public interest in our work.
We have an established international reputation for the content analysis of public affairs and political communication.
Our analysis of General Elections news reporting began in 1992, with the first ever study of broadcast and print media coverage to be published in ‘real time’ as the campaign was unfolding.
Our work remains unique in providing authoritative, timely and accessible statistical analysis of the democratic performance of the main national news media during major UK political campaigns.
During the UK General Elections (2015, 2017 and 2019) and EU Referendum (2016), we scrutinised more than 10,000 campaign-related news reports and commentaries to provide weekly reports on news media performance. These findings received national and international news coverage and led to further requests for detailed data or analysis from news organisations and political campaigners.
By conducting analysis across successive campaigns, we have been able to provide unrivalled immediate and longitudinal comparative data to guide policy and practice.
- British Academy Leverhulme Trust