Saturday, 10 April 2010

General Election 2010 and the Media

We are nearly a week in so I've decided to do a synopsis of some of the main GE2010 coverage to date, and where I think the most innovative journalism is happening.

The much maligned BBC website continues to strike fear into the heart of newspapers everywhere with a dedicated GE2010 micro site, complete with up to date, minute by minute news feed incorporating tweets. This is a strong addition to the BBC's already excellent blogs, with Nick Robinson and the team blogging with the gusto of a Government in Waiting. Verdict: Excellent start for the Beeb BUT they must not drop the ball with the leaders' debates.

Sky News
Sky has gone for strength in numbers, utilising their large budgets for live camera pieces throughout the day with heavyweights Adam Boulton and Kay Burley working almost 24/7 it would seem. The production is slick but the coverage is, in my opinion, let down by the sensationalism - the yellow 'breaking news' bar is at time cringe worthy. Unlike the BBC and ITV, SKY News has nothing to lose with the leaders' debates and I expect it the production to be the slickest and most American in style.

The third channel on the remote has struggled to keep pace with the social media integration of BBC and Sky and isn’t leading on many stories at present. The news team needs a big exclusive from the election soon to make up ground.

News International (minus Sky)
The Times has produced the solid coverage you would expect of it but the website remains in a league behind the Telegraph and Guardian. The Sun has already taken the scalp of one Scottish Labour candidate and led the debate on the use of Twitter by politicians. News of the World has produced an excellent series of Facebook videos and a dedicated NOTW GE2010 Facebook fan page. This is making politics more accessible to young voters and the videos are updated on a constant basis. Along with the aforementioned SKY production, there is no arguing with James Murdoch's focus on this election.

The Guardian
Highlight has been the balance of opinion and commentary, emphasised by the excellent GE2010 pull out on the first day of the official campaign. Website combines humour and commentary well and the grand old paper will continue to balance the right wing views of the Mail and company.
The Mail
Middle England's voice has backed Cameron's moves on National Insurance and Marriage Tax Breaks but has also focused on the micro battles of local councils - mainly as a vehicle to discuss the worries of the large swing vote outside London. Within this, they have already launched campaigns on the usual grounds of immigration and expect more of the same from the Mail:

Up there with the Guardian for social media and website content, the Telegraph has succeeded with some great blogs from Charles Moore and Robert Moore amongst others. Strongest business coverage outside the FT.

Twitter has been electric since the start of the campaign, fed by the Tory masters Iain Dale and Tim Montgomerie. Their battle against the many Labour MPs and candidates has been fierce and no holds barred - witness the Labour campaign to #sackgrayling and the sacking of the Scottish Labour candidate who proved too many tweets do make a...

Some excellent tweets and blogs from Paul Waugh have seen the ever improving new look Evening Standard cement its place alongside the nationals. Guido Fawkes has been a consistent thorn in Labour's side - as you would expect. The John Prescott team have taken his traditional battle bus tour and combined it well with social media, epitomised by some very funny tweets and coverage from Aintree racecourse.

This isn't an exhaustive audit but it's clear that the media have embraced the challenge of the 'digital election' and are providing voters with a veritable feast of political news and opinion.

For me, the biggest challenges will now come with the next unknown area and that is, of course, the three leaders' debates on BBC, ITV and Sky. Worries over format and scripts have been voiced and if they are not addressed, the shouts of #stagemangedelection could become louder and cause problems for all three main parties in the latter weeks of the election.


  1. Interesting how the online and offline elements have merged. Ellie Gellard is another key example.

    With the speed at which things seem to be developing, I wouldn't be suprised if this is dubbed the 'Twittelection'. Or are we not quite ready for that yet?

  2. It will be defined in those terms, especially since Labour launched a downloadable manifesto video too. These times they are a changing...