The presentation was made by DCU academics Kevin Rafter, Iain Mcmenamin, Roddy Flynn and Eoin O'Malley last night at a briefing in Dublin following on from an article by Rafter in yesterday's Irish Times.
The research covers 1,400 articles and just 46 hours of broadcasting during the campaign, it might be interesting to note that among the broadcasts not included is Vincent Brown's programme on TV3. The academics explained last night that they have been somewhat constrained into how much they could cover given the resources that they have available.
What the research does reveal is however is still striking, it analyses the proportion of coverage that newspapers (in particular) gave to the general election last year, and analysis that coverage based on the subject. The biggest coverage was actually given to the game/horserace itself, which would include coverage of opinion polls and the tooing and frooing of the campaing. The economy was an very close second.
The research also looks into how the newspapers framed the campaign in terms of it being more a game or being more about policy. The Irish Sun ranks highest here for covering the campaign from a policy perspective, The Irish Times and Sunday Times appear to be a close joint-second. The Sunday World, News of the World and Sunday Independent covered the election as more of a game.
In terms of broadcast coverage, the most interesting aspect was how the different radio and television programmes treated the campaign. TodayFM's Last Word ranks highest for covering it from a policy perspective, whilst Newstalk, also owned by Communicorp, treated it most like a game. Evening radio in general appears to have been the best place to get coverage of the policy elements of the campaign, and the Sunday tabloids was the place to go for coverage of the game.
The DCU academics have been very kind to allow Politics.ie reproduce their presentation, and Rafter's piece in yesterday's Irish Times is well worth a read to accompany the below presentation slides.
Mediating the 2011 general election: Preliminary results from an analysis of newspaper and broadcast campai...