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From bad to worse? The media and the 2019 election campaign
journal contributionposted on 01.06.2020, 08:02 by Dominic WringDominic Wring, Stephen Ward
From Twitter to the BBC, media platforms were perceived as having had ‘a bad election’. The story of the 2019 media campaign focussed primarily on the negative. There were continual claims of misinformation and deliberate disinformation spread via social media and amplified by the so-called mainstream news. Accusations of bias were widespread and not just aimed at the highly partisan newspaper sector. Public service broadcasters were repeatedly accused of inaccurate and biased coverage by both main parties. In the case of social media platforms, they were criticised for polluting debate, heightening polarisation and generally responsible for sustaining high levels of incivility (and even abuse) in politics. The parties themselves were also accused of exploiting the supposedly toxic atmosphere by avoiding scrutiny, refusing to engage with difficult events, or by flooding the campaign with a barrage of dubious claims. Ultimately, the media stood accused of failing in the fundamental task of holding parties to account through properly scrutinising politicians' claims. Although none of this is new, 2019 might have set a new low and potentially accelerated the further erosion of trust in political information or discussion. Yet, how far any of this cut through to the average voter remains open to question. After months of endless Brexit coverage, the sense of wanting it to all to end was perhaps the overriding concern in the 2019 election. This piece reconsiders these issues. First, it analyses the way the media attempted to frame the campaign and particularly the newspaper hostility towards Corbyn’s Labour. Secondly, it examines how rival parties, with an increased capacity to bypass established media, attempted to manufacture attention or distract voters, and what impact this had on the style and tone of the campaign.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media