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Populations and Populism: Immigration Coverage in UK General Election News Coverage (1992 to 2015)

Fri, May 26, 9:30 to 10:45, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo Ballroom H


This paper examines the extent to which coverage of immigration issues has featured in mainstream national news reporting of UK General Elections between 1992 and 2015. This six-phase content analysis charts major shifts in the scale of coverage over this period that cannot be explained by reference to external factors alone, such as increases in net migration and growing public attentiveness to the issue. We show that since 2005 a disconnect has emerged between media coverage of the issue and external indicators of its scale and importance. The analysis also reveals a shift in the ownership of the immigration issue in formal campaign settings, with the UK Independence Party becoming the most dominant issue associate in electoral coverage of immigration issues. The analysis concludes with a discussion of what the research might reveal about the extent to which mainstream news media help, or hinder, the advance of populism during election campaign