Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ tag

Why don’t we have more analysis of media coverage of politics?

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Whatever you saw, read, or heard about Barack Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention you can be sure of one thing. The coverage will be covered.

Media Matters for America, the Project for Excellence in Journalism,, the Pew Centre for People & Press, Columbia Journalism Review, TechPresident, lots of university media media centres, and many many blogs will all, in different ways, analyse the media coverage.

Some of these organisations are politically partisan. Media Matters is overtly pro-Democrat and searches for any signs of media bias: ‘ABC reports that Republicans are mocking Democrats’ columned stage, not that 2004 GOP convention stage also had columns’ was one of Thursday’s headlines.

Others are explicitly non-partisan, such as The Pew Centre for Press and People that conducts opinion polls and, with the PEJ, measures media coverage (e.g see ‘Obama rumours get more press‘).

And some focus on new media. Tech President, for example, looks at who is blogging about the campaign, who is watching Obama or McCain on YouTube or supporting the candidate on Facebook, as well as discussion and comment.

This doesn’t include, of course, the analyses by mainstream media. Howard Kurtz on media for the Washington Post. Fox News telling its viewers that the liberal media slavishly compare Obama’s rhetoric with Kennedy’s. Or Jon Stewart ribbing Fox News on the Daily Show.

So what does the UK have by comparison?

Well… Channel 4 makes a valiant effort to run FactCheck UK. There are some good bloggers discussing media, like Adrian Monck and Roy Greenslade (though certainly not restricted to politics). But not much more.

Why isn’t there more analysis of media coverage of politics in the UK? Given how important the media has become to politicians – “a vast aspect of our jobs today…” Tony Blair said last year “is coping with the media, its sheer scale, weight and constant hyperactivity” – you would have thought someone, somewhere, would be keeping a closer record.

Of course there are significant differences in the political process. We know when American elections are going to happen and the build up starts over a year before election day. This means US organisations have both time to prepare and plenty to analyse. In the UK the Prime Minister only has to give the electorate six weeks notice. So though most of us figure the next election will be in 2010, it’s difficult to justify starting election analysis now.

There’s also a lot more riding on the US election. Much as the UK might continue to swing its weight about in the world (hat tip to Mr David Miliband), the US remains the leading global power.

But these differences should only account for a difference in scale and approach. They don’t explain the vacuum of analysis here.

It’s time we had a centre for political media analysis. It’s time for a UK Pew / Project for Excellence in Journalism / TechPresident. Any volunteers?

Written by Martin Moore

August 29th, 2008 at 5:48 am

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"If – more likely when – she loses this primary…"

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Ahh, those pesky newspaper publishing deadlines.

Anton Antonowicz must be kicking himself for not staying up till the early hours last night and convincing the sub-eds at the Mirror to let him file at the last possible moment.

Given Hillary Clinton’s 3 point victory over Barack Obama in New Hampshire his article in today’s paper (‘Hillary’s Campaign Trailing’ – strangely now taken down from the Mirror website) looks a little dated to say the least.

‘[T]he formerly rock-solid confidence of the front-runners in this race for the White House is dying’ Antonowicz writes. Hillary Clinton ‘had the most money, most experience, most naked ambition. But her seemingly slick campaign now seems tragically flawed.’ Dead already?

‘If – more likely “when” – she loses this primary,’ Antonowicz continues ‘there will be a flurry of political obituaries’. He presumably wanted to get in there first, although rather prematurely as it turned out.

Not happy to leave it to the obituarists he goes on digging. ‘They [the obituarists] will cite her obvious panic at Obama’s sweeping Iowan victory… They will highlight how quickly Hillary lost the aura of respectability’. Stop! Stop! Put the shovel down!

But no. ‘Everything that followed Hillary’s Iowa loss was bungled by her campaign’. Oh dear. Perhaps Clinton should go on bungling.

Gerrard Baker takes a wiser approach in The Times: ‘This election is a long, long way from over’ he writes. As such it probably makes sense to hold off those political obituaries, particularly if publishing deadlines mean you have to make your predictions hours in advance of the results…

Written by Martin Moore

January 9th, 2008 at 11:23 am

The politics of engagement

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OK try this. Type ‘Barack Obama’ into Google – about 3.2m hits with the official site at the top. Now type ‘Gordon Brown’ into Google – about 40m hits with HM Treasury’s biography at the top (plus the wonderfully useful theyworkforyou entry).
Now delve a little deeper, take a look around Obama’s site – surf through some of the groups in There’s ‘NYC Young Professionals for Obama‘, and ‘Buckeyes for Obama’ (from Ohio State). Each one has listings of events, blogs, and even profiles of some of the members of the group.
Skip back to Gordon Brown. You can find out that his ‘interests include football, tennis and film’, download a print resolution of his photograph and take a look at his speeches, but contact him? Read his blog? Support him? Nope.
This is, of course, an entirely unfair comparison. Obama is campaigning furiously to become Democratic candidate for president, in a country which has enthusiastically adopted the web as a means of fundraising and raising support. Brown is already installed in Downing Street and is packing his things ready to move next door.
But if British politicians genuinely want to re-engage people in politics, encourage people to express their political views, and motivate people to get involved, surely they can do better than a four para bio on a departmental website.
The Center for Citizen Media points out that these official US sites are a means of controlling as well as galvanising supporters – but at least they give people the opportunity both to hear an authentic voice and to say something in a forum where it might get taken seriously. The closest we have here is David Miliband’s blog, which is not much more sophisticated than blogger and has more than a touch of tokenism to it, but at least gives people a chance to respond.
Maybe now it’s become more difficult to raise funds from wealthy donors Brown might have an incentive to consider the Obama approach.

Written by Martin Moore

May 11th, 2007 at 11:42 am

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