PODCAST: Papers in politics

Do newspapers turn the tide of an election? What types of election news are readers consuming? And is this really the “social media election”. We tackle these questions and more in the debut podcast of Press Play. Click here to subscribe on iTunes.

In this episode we explore how news consumption behaviours have changed between the 2013 and 2016 federal elections and chat to:

  • Andrew Webster, digital editor of The Australian
  • Bevan Shields, Canberra bureau chief for Fairfax Media
  • Julian Delany, chief digital officer of NewsLifeMedia
  • Bryce Johns, editorial director Australian Regional Media

The episode also examines Australia’s first social media election debate, the Fair Go for Regional Australia campaign, politics fatigue, attitudinal data about swing voters and an outspoken marketing professor.

While its only been three years since the last federal election, there has been much change in both politics and the media landscape.

The 2016 election comes in the shadow of global uncertainty amid the Brexit and rise of Trump, the proliferation of social media and mobile, and a sense the public is growing tired of campaign-trail politics.

Fairfax’s Bevan Shields believes there are certain types of election stories that the public is finding tiresome, and it is getting worst with each election.

“People are fatigued by the structured, stage-managed campaigns of the leaders. People aren’t interested in that. It doesn’t cut through and I don’t know why the campaigns haven’t picked that up,” he said.

“The interest remains in commentary, analysis, that kind of stuff where we can serve our readers and tell them something that they didn’t know, something that the campaigns aren’t trying to tell them.”

Mr Shields believes newspapers still have an influence in 2016, as does The Australian’s Andrew Webster, although he believes consistency is more important than big spikes in readership.

Andrew-Webster-Pullquote-Podcast

Mr Webster was formerly digital editor of Queensland’s The Courier-Mail, holding the position during the 2013 election.

During that election, The Courier-Mail and other News Corp Australia metro titles were renowned for their use of high impact-front pages with dramatic headlines like “Kick this mob out” and “Send in the clown”.

Mr Webster said the approach helped bring the election cycle to the attention of many unengaged readers.

“Anything that helps to grab the attention of someone who isn’t involved and gets them involved is a valid, good way into the subject,” Mr Webster said.

“Can you keep doing the same thing over and over again? I guess not. Any activity has typically a diminishing rate of returns so you need to always be looking for a new way to reinvent what you’re trying to do.”

“I think that with the level of exposure, just the opportunities that people have, just the alternatives they have, to consume their media, no one thing can really hope to cut through and dominate and pretend to be the leader of the pack. I think we all just take our opportunities when we can.”

Please share your thoughts about this episode using the comments section below.

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3 comments

  1. Newspapers, I fear no longer influence/inform/encourage voter decisions because we are talking to a much older audience than we have in the past. I’m old enough to have grandchildren 20+ and they do not read newspapers. Why should they? Generally their age group is still at ‘school’ (uni/whatever); still live at home and have no comprehension of, medical problems and for instance a SF. My grand children reckon each side is as bad as the other as their contempt for power-puff, go-lightly, PC politicians matches the politicians’ contempt for our intelligence.
    My opinion is that our old audience is interested in what we contribute to their decision but their own real-life ups and downs do much more to confirm their yes/no personal vote. However, the reality is, gentlemen, that Fairfax readers (and ABC creatures!) are 90% sure where their money is and the same applies to News Ltd readers. Worse, our savaged circulations reach maybe half of those to whom we used to preach.
    Where have all those old readers gone? To the Social Media sewers? I doubt it. I believe most of them are rusted on Lib or Lab or have fled to the blowfly parties that infest and paralyse our constitutional electoral maize.

  2. Newspapers, I fear no longer influence/inform/encourage voter decisions because we are talking to a much older audience than we have in the past. I’m old enough to have grandchildren 20+ and they do not read newspapers. Why should they? Generally their age group is still at ‘school’ (uni/whatever); still live at home and have no comprehension of, medical problems and for instance a SF. My grand children reckon each side is as bad as the other as their contempt for power-puff, go-lightly, PC politicians matches the politicians’ contempt for our intelligence.
    My opinion is that our old audience is interested in what we contribute to their decision but their own real-life ups and downs do much more to confirm their yes/no personal vote. However, the reality is, gentlemen, that Fairfax readers (and ABC creatures!) are 90% sure where their money is and the same applies to News Ltd readers. Worse, our savaged circulations reach maybe half of those to whom we used to preach.
    Where have all those old readers gone? To the Social Media sewers? I doubt it. I believe most of them are rusted on Lib or Lab or have fled to the blowfly parties that infest and paralyse our constitutional electoral maize.

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