If you think the media had spent more time on sideshows than policy in the last couple of weeks a University of Canterbury study of election coverage proves you right.
The results to 22 November of an ongoing University of Canterbury study into media coverage of the election show that coverage of policy is being sidelined by continuing media interest in the tea tape scandal involving Prime Minister John Key and the ACT Party’s candidate in the Epsom electorate, John Banks.
“Media references to policy issues (41% of coverage of issues) were outnumbered by references to non-policy issues (59% of coverage of issues),” said University of Canterbury researcher Katherine Roff. “This is in contrast to the first week of the election when the majority of the media coverage focused on policy issues.
For the first four weeks of the campaign the economy got 16.6% of the coverage of issues; social and public services got 15% and state-owned assets got 12.2%. In the last couple of weeks the side show has had more prominence than policy.
Of the coverage devoted to parties at the four-week point of the campaign, National led Labour by attracting 37.6 % of coverage compared to Labour’s 28.4% of coverage. However, National had 25.4% more negative coverage than positive while Labour had 10.4% more negative coverage than positive coverage.
The Green Party received the largest net amount of positive coverage at 21.2%.
Prime Minister John Key attracted the majority of media coverage amongst party leaders at 52.6%, followed by Labour leader Phil Goff on 24.1%. However the Prime Minister received 28.9% more negative coverage than positive coverage whereas Mr Goff attracted 8.9% more negative coverage than positive coverage.
A now former Green Party member was behind the vandalism of National’s billboards. Russel Norman denied any knowledge of the campaign but no-one’s bothered to ask other MPs and office holders whether they knew anything.
This reinforces Liberty Scott’s post Why do the Greens get an easy ride. Part two: 50 questions that should have been asked of the Greens.