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‘Standards, corruption, scandals and sleaze’ dominate in week four of the election campaign

  • Betting outrage sees ‘Standards, corruption, scandals and sleaze’ become the second most covered issue in week four of the election, and the third ranked issue across the entire campaign – ahead of key policy issues, such as economy and immigration.
  • Coverage of issues associated with 'Minority groups' has broken into the top ten this week (6th). The announcement of the Labour Party’s position on trans rights and JK Rowling’s criticism of the party have lent considerable impetus in this rise.
  • Nigel Farage has confirmed his position as the clear alternative party voice to the two main contenders for the premiership. Despite criticism of his comments on Ukraine, coverage of Reform has not become more negative in aggregate terms.
  • Negative newspaper coverage of the Conservatives has increased in week four. What has ordinarily been one of the party's more reliable sources of support in previous elections appears to have now turned on them in this campaign.
  • The fourth of five reports by 鶹Ƶ’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture (CRCC) analysing media coverage of the General Election.

The betting scandal and Labour’s trans rights fall out with JK Rowling saw a change in this week’s top 10 issues covered by the media.

‘Standards, corruption, scandals and sleaze’ become the second most covered issue in week four of the election and the third ranked issue across the entire campaign – ahead of key policy issues, such as economy and immigration.

The betting debate also propelled Cabinet minister Alister Jack into the top 20 most talked about people over the past seven days.

Coverage of issues associated with ‘minority groups’ has broken into the top ten this week at 6th place. The announcement of the Labour Party’s position on trans rights and JK Rowling’s criticism of the party propelled this topic up the media agenda. The Harry Potter author finished the week as the 9th most talked about person related to the General Election.

Week four as also saw Nigel Farage confirming his position as the clear alternative party voice to the two main contenders for the premiership. Despite criticism of his comments on Ukraine, coverage of Reform has not become more negative in aggregate terms.

Farage has remained in third place throughout the campaign and has been the politician who has consistently attracted more attention than any other after Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak.

Ed Davey, who is perceived to have had a good campaign with the Liberal democrats, achieves his highest ranking in this week’s Top 20 most prominent political figures in the media campaign. Even though he has closed the gap on his Reform UK rival, the LibDem leader still only received just over half the news attention that Farage has generated.

In an interesting change from the 2019 election, press headlines in the 2024 campaign have used the first names and surnames of the two main party leaders in roughly equal measure. This contrasts significantly with patterns found in 2019, where the Conservative party leader was frequently referred to by his first name and the Labour leader almost exclusively by his surname.

Speaking about this week’s report, Professor David Deacon said: “Examining how politicians are named in newspaper headlines can be revealing. In 2019, it was a ‘Boris’ versus ‘Corbyn’ contest, whereas this time round, it’s more of a ‘Sunak’ versus ‘Starmer’ stand-off. This seems to us to be emblematic of a broader dealignment and distancing in many editorial responses to the current campaign.”

The team’s full report and methodology can be found on the University’s dedicated 2024 General Election website.  

Results in the report are derived from detailed content analysis of news coverage of the election, compiled by experts in the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture. The research team has conducted news audits for every General Election since 1992.  

For regular updates follow  on X.  

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 24/84

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