Media Coverage of the NZ General Election

is a PhD student at the School of Political Science and Communication of the University of Canterbury and has been working on a study that has been conducted into the NZ coverage of the 2008 election by Dr. .

This study is based on a content analysis of the leading New Zealand newspapers (New Zealand Herald, Dominion Post and The Press) and television news programmes (TV1 and TV3 evening news).  The entire study is conducted over an eight-week timeline beginning from Helen Clark’s announcement of the election date on 12 September 2008 and ending on Election Day (8 November 2008).  The findings of this particular document only cover the first six of these weeks (12 September to 24 October).  Over the first six weeks, 574 stories were analysed.  It is expected that the entire study will incorporate over 900 stories.

The full preliminary results can be found here – new-zealands-media-coverage-of-the-2008-election-study-preliminary-results.

Some extracts:

Media coverage: Labour 37%, National 35%, Maori 9%, Greens 8%, NZF 5%, ACT 3%, UFNZ 2% and Progressive 1%

But then the breakdowns:

The tone of coverage is very interesting though. They divided coverage up into positive, neutral and negative. The net positive or negative coverage is:

  1. Maori +13%
  2. Greens +13%
  3. UFNZ +5%
  4. ACT -3%
  5. Labour – 7%
  6. Progressive – 10%
  7. NZ First – 10%
  8. National – 24%

They also compared total media coverage to the average support a party has in the polls. The difference between the two was:

  1. Maori +6.3%
  2. UFNZ +2.0%
  3. NZF +1.9%
  4. Greens +1.6%
  5. Labour +1.3%
  6. ACT +1.3%
  7. Progressive +0.9%
  8. National -13.6%

Then we have the tone of media coverage of the leaders. And the net positive over negative was:

  1. Anderton +19%
  2. Dunne +10%
  3. Turia/Sharples +6%
  4. Fitzsimons/Norman +2%
  5. Clark -1%
  6. Peters -11%
  7. Key -13%
  8. Hide – 15%

So Key and Hide had more net negative coverage that Winston!!!

In terms of issues, the major ones were:

  • Economy 25%
  • Tax 12%
  • Law & Order 10%
  • KiwiSaver/Super 8%
  • Immigration 8%
  • Maori Issues 6%
  • Health 6%
  • Education 6%

They also looked at overall coverage of policy issues compared to non-policy issues (polls, coalitions etc) and found the split 57% to 43% only. Should be 80:20 or more in my opinion. The only policy issue that got more coverage that either the polls or coalition options was the economy.

A fascinating study and thanks to Tessa for a copy. I look forward to seeing the full study after the election.

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