Interpreting the Media Logic behind Editorial Decisions: Television News Coverage of the 2015 U.K. General Election Campaign.

Stephen Cushion, Richard Thomas, Allaina Kilby, Marina Morani, Richard Sambrook

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    Abstract

    This article enters into debates about media logic in political coverage by way of a case study of the 2015 U.K. General Election. We quantitatively and qualitatively examine two dominant themes of coverage—news about campaign rallies and horse-race reporting—as both are widely seen in political communication scholarship as symptomatic of a media logic. We draw on a content analysis of BBC, ITV, Sky News, Channel 4, and Channel 5 U.K. national television newscasts and semi-structured interviews with their heads of news and/or senior editors to help interpret how far a media logic was the editorial driving force behind coverage. At face value, our content analysis appears to support the media logic thesis, with all broadcasters—in particular commercial television newscasts—covering more process than policy issues. But our case study questions the antecedents of media logic and shines a light on a political logic that may have remained in the dark in large-scale content analysis studies. In following a political logic, we argue that this promoted the horse-race narrative, and naturalized the parties’ highly stage-managed rallies and walkabouts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)472-489
    JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
    Volume21
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Keywords

    • Journalism
    • television news
    • news production
    • opinion polls
    • political parties
    • election campaign

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