Dr Susana Sampaio-Dias
Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Portsmouth.
Dr James Dennis
Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Portsmouth.
Section 3: News and Journalism
- Conventional wisdom distorted TV news coverage of campaign
- A tale of two leaders: news media coverage of the 2017 General Election
- Did broadcast stage-management create a vacuum for social media?
- Ducking the debate
- Caught in the middle: the BBC’s impossible impartiality dilemma
- Media policy: the curious incident of the dog in the night-time
- The use and abuse of the vox pop in the 2017 UK General Election television news coverage
- Media bias hits a wall
- Declining newspaper sales and the role of broadcast journalism in the 2017 general election
- Newspapers’ editorial opinions: stuck between a rock and a hard place
- It’s the Sun wot lost it
- From Brexit to Corbyn: agenda setting, framing and the UK media – a research agenda
- Is our national press a fading dinosaur? Don’t bank on it
- A mixed mailbag: letters to the editor during the electoral campaign
- Long live the wisdom of the phone-in crowd
- Fact-checking the election
- Should we worry about fake news?
- Tweets, campaign speeches and dogs at polling stations: the election on live blogs
- Process, personalities and polls: online news coverage of the UK General Election 2017
- Online election news can be bloody difficult (for a) woman
In the hours that followed the shock of the exit poll, a narrative quickly emerged amongst political pundits to help explain the unexpected surge in support for the Labour Party: . Youth engagement has been a key factor throughout this election. From musicians , to a massive voter registration drive that resulted in , young people have been consistently touted as potential difference-makers in the outcome of #GE2017. While our understanding of precisely who voted will remain somewhat sketchy until the publication of the British Election Study later this year, early indications point to a .
This leads us to ask, what information sources did these young people draw on when deciding how to cast their vote? Although the conducted by Loughborough University covers , the outcome of this election highlights the pressing need to also explore those digital news sources that directly target younger voters. We analyse how this election was reported to younger audiences by two new-media organisations, BuzzFeed and VICE.
Founded in 2006, BuzzFeed is renowned for its cat memes, quizzes, and listicles. While initially focusing on light-hearted content, over the past four years the company has . Under the stewardship of editor-in-chief , BuzzFeed News commands an . Despite their growing reach, on whether the tone and style that BuzzFeed adopts is suited to rigorous journalism.
As expected, BuzzFeed maintained a journalistic style that blurred the lines between information and entertainment. From , to a , humour was a constant feature. However, this approach belies the sophistication and depth of their election reporting. BuzzFeed were at the forefront of coverage on the digital campaign, identifying , flagging up , and . Alongside pieces on the daily developments of the campaign, they also focused on , , and those . While evidently many of these stories reflect the interests of their target demographic, what is striking about their coverage is its form, language, and style: BuzzFeed taps into a particular digital vernacular to connect with its audience. The use of , , and represents a new form of digital storytelling, one that can act as an important entry point for younger citizens into a range of complex political stories.
Emerging as an underground counterculture magazine in Montreal in 1994, VICE’s current editorial style chimes with its abrasive and controversial CEO, Shane Smith. Launching its UK arm in 2002, VICE strongly oppose conventional orthodoxy in journalism, seeking to offer hip, edgy, alternative perspectives to the legacy media agenda, such as their , or their . With an , their staff .
VICE organised much of their coverage under two sections, and , setting the overarching tone of the election coverage: either in dismay to be dragged , or in merry enjoyment, and . Like an amused biologist hiding in the bushes, VICE and scrutinised “Toriness” . If the , VICE attacked the Conservatives with comparable levels of fearless partisanship. With a fierce conviction that the election result would depend on youth turnout, VICE , and . The language was witty and sarcastic, , and chose to hover between the othering of Conservative supporters and . Their Gonzo-inspired political coverage is as familiar as a pub discussion with your hilarious — maybe already tipsy — but still well informed mates.
Both publications are examples of digital disruption in election reporting. More than distributing content, BuzzFeed and VICE embrace the culture of social media. They draw on the ideas, language, and behaviours of the social web to connect with their audience. In doing so, they challenged the traditional values and norms of news making during this general election.