British Politics

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 164–183 | Cite as

Reporting different second order elections: A comparative analysis of the 2009 and 2013 local and EU elections on public and commercial UK television news bulletins

Original Article

Abstract

Drawing on a systematic content analysis, this article examines how far television news bulletins with different levels of public service obligations reported the EU and local elections in 2009 and the local elections in 2013. The aim is to compare coverage on the main evening terrestrial bulletins in the United Kingdom (the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5) during different types of second order campaigns and according to their regulatory responsibilities. Although UK citizens appear to value local above EU elections, the latter campaign was more extensively reported than the former on all broadcasters, with politicians sourced differently. Most striking was the market deficit of second order election news, notably Channel 5 – the broadcaster with the lightest public service obligations – containing no policy related stories. It was left to the BBC – the broadcaster with the strongest public service commitments – to deliver the most comprehensive and policy-orientated coverage.

Keywords

second order elections media content analysis UK broadcasting public sphere 

References

  1. Aalberg, T. and Curran, J. (2012) How Media Inform Democracy: A Comparative Approach. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Aalberg, T., Strömbäck, J. and de Vreese, C.H. (2012) The framing of politics as strategy and game: A review of concepts, operationalizations and key findings. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 13 (2): 162–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnett, S. (2012) The Rise and Fall of Television Journalism: Just Wires and Lights in a Box? London: Bloomsbury Press.Google Scholar
  4. Barnett, S., Ramsay, G.N. and Gabor, I. (2012) From Callaghan to Credit Crunch: Changing Trends in British Television News 1975–2009. London: Westminster University.Google Scholar
  5. Bennett, L.W. (2007) News: The Politics of Illusion, 7th edn. New York: Pearson.Google Scholar
  6. Blumler, J. and Gurevitch, M. (1987) Journalists’ orientations toward social institutions: The case of parliamentary broadcasting. In: P. Golding, G. Murdock and P. Schlesinger (eds.) Communicating Politics. Leicester, UK: University of Leicester Press.Google Scholar
  7. Brighton, P. and Foy, D. (2007) News Values. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carrubba, C. and Timpone, R.J. (2005) Explaining vote switching across first- and second-order elections: Evidence from Europe. Comparative Political Studies 38 (3): 260–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark, N. and Rohrschneider, R. (2009) Second‐order elections versus first‐order thinking: How voters perceive the representation process in a multi‐layered system of governance. Journal of European Integration 31 (5): 645–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cushion, S. (2012) The Democratic Value of News: Why Public Service Media Matter. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cushion, S. (2015) News and Politics: The Rise of Live and Interpretive Journalism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Cushion, S. and Thomas, R. (2013) The mediatization of politics: Interpreting the value of live vs. edited journalistic interventions in UK television news bulletins. The International Journal of Press/Politics 18 (3): 360–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. De Vreese, C.H. (2003) Television reporting of second-order elections. Journalism Studies 4 (2): 183–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. De Vreese, C.H., Banducci, S.A., Semetko, H.A. and Boomgaarden, H.G. (2006) The news media coverage of the 2004 european parliamentary election campaign in 25 countries. European Union Politics 7 (4): 477–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dimitrova, D.V. and Strömbäck, J. (2012) Election news in Sweden and the United States: A comparative study of sources and media frames. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism 13 (5): 604–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Electoral Commission (2004) Public Opinion and the 2004 Elections. London: Electoral Commission.Google Scholar
  17. Electoral Commission/ICM (2009) European and Local Elections 2009: Summary Report. London: Electoral Commission.Google Scholar
  18. Esser, F. (2008) Dimensions of political news cultures: Sound bite and image bite news in France, Germany, Great Britain and the United States. The International Journal of Press/Politics 13 (4): 401–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Esser, F. et al (2012) Political information opportunities in Europe: A longitudinal and comparative study of thirteen television systems. The International Journal of Press/Politics 17 (3): 247–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fleiss, J.L. (1981) Statistical Methods for Rates and Proportions. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Ford, R. and Goodwin, M. (2014) Revolt On The Right: Explaining Support For The Radical Right in Britain. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Franklin, B. (2008) Newszak. Entertainment versus news and information. In: A. Biressi and H. Nunn (eds.) The Tabloid Culture Reader. Maidenhead, UK: McGraw Hill;Open University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Franklin, M. and Weber, T. (2010) The Structuring Effect of First Order Elections. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association; September, Washington DC.Google Scholar
  24. Galtung, J. and Ruge, M.M. (1965) The structure of foreign news. Journal of International Peace Research 2 (1): 64–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Grabe, M.E. and Bucy, E. (2009) Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hallin, D. (1992) Sound bite news: Television coverage of elections, 1968-1988. Journal of Communication 42 (2): 5–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harcup, T. and O’Neil, D. (2001) What is news? Galtung and ruge revisited. Journalism Studies 2 (2): 261–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Heath, A., McLean, I., Taylor, B. and Curtice, J. (1999) Between first and second order: A comparison of voting behaviour in European and local elections in Britain. European Journal of Political Research 35 (3): 389–414.Google Scholar
  29. Manning, P. (2001) News and News Sources: A Critical Introduction. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Marsh, M. and Mikhaylov, S. (2010) European parliament elections and EU governance. Living Reviews. Euro. Gov. 5, 4, https://www.ucl.ac.uk/spp/people/slava-mikhaylov/Marsh_Mikhaylov_2010.pdf, accessed 16 April 2014.
  31. McNair, B., Hibberd, M. and Schlesinger, P. (2003) Mediated Access: Broadcasting and Democratic Participation in the Age of Mediated Politics. Luton, UK: University of Luton Press.Google Scholar
  32. Morgan, D. (1999) The European Parliament, Mass Media, and the Search for Power and Influence. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  33. Negrin, R. and Stanyer, J. (eds.) (2007) The Political Communication Reader. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Ofcom (2012) Licensing of channel 3 and channel 5. (London: Ofcom), http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/broadcast/tv-ops/c3_c5_licensing.pdf, accessed 4 November 2013.
  35. Patterson, T. (2000) Doing Well and Doing Good: How Soft News and Critical Journalism Are Shrinking the News Audience and Weakening Democracy – And What News Outlets Can Do About It. Harvard, MA: John F. Kennedy School of Government.Google Scholar
  36. Prior, M. (2007) Post-Broadcast Democracy: How Media Choice Increases Inequality in Political Involvement and Polarizes Elections. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Reif, K. and Schmitt, H. (1980) Nine second-order national elections – A conceptual framework for the analysis of European election results. European Journal of Political Research 8 (1): 3–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Schmitt, H. (2005) The European parliament elections of June 2004: Still second-order? West European Politics 28 (3): 650–679.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Semetko, H., Blumler, J., Gurevitch, M. and Weaver, D.H. (1991) The Formation of Campaign Agendas: A Comparative Analysis of Party and Media Roles in Recent American and British Elections. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  40. Strömbäck, J. and Kaid, L.L. (2008) (eds.) The Handbook of Election News Coverage Around the World. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Strömbäck, J. and Dimitrova, D.V. (2011) Mediatization and media interventionism: A comparative analysis of Sweden and the United States. International Journal of Press/Politics 16 (1): 30–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Cardiff Business School, Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations