A long time in politics

As part of my thesis research I have been recording and coding broadcast media news coverage of the election since the campaign began. The following chart indicates how last week’s big ticket election stories played out on the radio, showing combined seconds of daytime news coverage on 720 ABC Perth, the Southern Cross network talkback station 6PR, and the city’s highest rating FM music station, the Austereo network’s Mix 94.5FM.

Numbers below mark events that drove the coverage, colour-coded to indicate the relevant issue:

1. Liberal tax policy launched
2. PM’s interest rates gaffe
3. Economic Review figures on WorkChoices advertising
4. Labor housing policy launched
5. Coalition criticism over housing policy impact on defence land
6. Labor nursing promise
7. Labor dental health policy
8. ACNielsen and Galaxy/PM’s encounter with the Chaser
9. Gavan O’Connor on Labor union control
10. Labor tax policy announced (neglected to put the number in, but you can see where it belongs)

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

42 comments on “A long time in politics”

  1. [the Southern Cross network talkback station 6PR, ]

    Not anymore, Fairfax are the new owners according to Bob Maumill. you can combine 6IX to PR as it’s basically the same bulletin pre-recorded so the same newsreader puts in the different callsign (PR is live if you look at their webcam, while IX is about 10-15 seconds later than PR.

  2. William, which University are you doing your thesis at? I’m guessing it’s not Murdoch because there’s no-one into electoral politics there.

  3. Greetings tragics, back from a fun day campaigning in the RW (you should all visit, it’s a nice place really, if a bit damp).

    Quote for the day:

    “John Howard will go down in history as the man who destroyed the Liberal Party. Not retiring last year was the worst political miscalculation in Australian history.” A Liberal minister, speaking off the record to a journalist, who repeated it to me.

  4. William, I take it you’re working with A/Prof David Denemark?

    A very smart man!

    Adam… so the Lib Minister’s are beginning to give up hope? It’s wierd that they are but not the backbenchers… someone I know was just talking with Kay Hulls (sp?) on the phone today who was confidently predicting the Coalition to retain government. Supposedly they’re receiving so much good feedback in their campaign (dumb I know).

  5. No 6

    It seems somewhat absurd that a Liberal minister would divulge such thoughts to a leftist campaigner, which suggests that you are a) lying and b) trolling.

  6. I know which minister it was, but I’m not saying.
    I will say that a Labor candidate told me today that the two dominant issues voters raised unprompted with him when he was doorknocking (in the Melbourne outer suburbs) were WorkChoices and climate change. Not one has mentioned “union bosses.”

  7. Funny, I could have sworn he just said that the Minister said it to a journalist and the journo repeated it to Adam.

    I guess I read it wrong, GP

  8. William, how much influence does research suggest radio news has on voting intentions? I would imagine it’s less than television but more than print.

  9. Adam, I’m sure that you of all people could come up with a sufficiently obscure hint, thus giving us a fighting chance of finding out who it was.

  10. You poor devil listening to 6PR. You remind me to do a post on Perth’s Worst Broadcaster Howard Sattler. He claims that he won’t be talking to politicians this campaign. I think he also failed lib preselection at one time.

  11. Judging by what they were saying about the APEC coup week, its might be harder to guess what Minister it wasn’t.

    Seriously though, why would someone say that to a journalist ‘off the record’ – its like that guy from Makin on AM this morning saying how high interest rates will drive voters to him.

    I mean, you might think it, but why the hell would you say it?????

  12. William, excellent research. Do you think radio sneaks under the radar a bit? Many people have it on in the am, in the car, at work … almost subliminal. FM news is almost entirely subliminal, in fact – it seems to consist of headlines. Are you analysing the angle of the coverage?

  13. [You poor devil listening to 6PR. You remind me to do a post on Perth’s Worst Broadcaster Howard Sattler. He claims that he won’t be talking to politicians this campaign. I think he also failed lib preselection at one time.]

    If Liam Bartlett hadn’t gone to 60 minutes, he would’ve been parachutedin to a safe State Liberal Seat, and would’ve challenged for Liberal Leader.

    His successor, Shorter Liam aka Simon Beaumont is ably taken over the mantle of chief Liberal rectal licker 🙂

  14. In a previous thread I wrote about what may have been had Howard resigned. Now it is a disaster for the liberals. The bottom truthful line is this:
    Howard was too greedy to resign and Costello was too weak to challenge. Now they suffer the consequences. Bloody good ridance.

  15. Howard Sattler’s actually not a Howard Hugger. He doesn’t love the man. My dad used to listen to him in the car all the time.

    I’ve always imagined most people that listen to talk back radio have pretty firmed opinions anyhow and tend to shout at the radio when anyone states something they disagree with.

  16. Workchoices is the issue that will crucify the Libs. It has been obvious for so long now that it is ingrained in to people’s thinking.

    I noticed Howard and Costello were defending Work Choices again today. I have always disagreed with the Libs but never felt them to be cretins. The more they talk about it the more people will do them over.

    At this stage, Labor just need to keep repeating we need your vote in the Senate too, so we can overturn this disgraceful legislation.

    This ain’t an election it is an incineration.

  17. [Howard Sattler’s actually not a Howard Hugger. He doesn’t love the man. My dad used to listen to him in the car all the time.]

    He’s a Pauline H tragic 🙂

  18. Read the post again, Generic. Hr didn’t say he got it from a Liberal Minister; he got it from a journalist. The journalist got it from the Minister.

    It’s undoubtedly “off-the-record” which is why no names are mentioned. But if you believe that this doesn’t occur, then obviously you’ve never read Crikey.

    There have been stories, even in the MSM, of at least one such minister regular mouthing off after a skinful.

  19. I’m frequently surprised at the things politicians say to journalists off the record. They do talk fairly freely to Gallery journalists, whom they trust not to break the “off the record” rules. The rules very rarely get broken, since they’re in the interests of both sides.

  20. LTEP, the answer is that research into the impact of radio news is just about non-existent, which is partly why I am focusing on it so much. The study of media effects came of age after WW2, when everybody was obsessed with television. Now everybody is (understandably) obsessed with the new media. When radio was studied at all, researchers invariably ignored news bulletins in their haste to fulminate about talkback. At no time has anyone thought it worth the effort of recording hourly news bulletins over an extended period, which was a big logistical exercise before the advent of modern computers and long-play VCRs (my secret weapon). So the tendency was to just look at newspapers and television and say either: a) television stood for the “broadcast media” in general, or b) radio didn’t matter because survey respondents rarely named it as their main source of news.

  21. My sentiments exactly, CL de Footscray @ 22 – you could almost be quoting the introduction to my thesis. With regard to the “angle”, it depends what you mean. As well as coding by issue categories, I am also counting time devoted to policy substance, strategic aspects (polls etc), campaign “hoopla” (I am sadly having to import American terminology from the existing body of research), gaffes, etc. I’m not devoting much effort to determining bias, if that’s what you’re asking.

  22. Fair enough William, I’m firmly of the view that the ‘new media’ is completely overrated as a source of political persuasion (mostly). It’ll take a lot to convince me that broadcast media isn’t the most powerful platform.

    Will be definately interested to see what you come up with for radio, it is a strangely pervasive medium.

  23. Cmon, leave him alone. He’s not going to drop a hint and nor should he. Off the record is off the record, I’m sure that applies to naming the minister in the conversation between Adam and the Journo aswell.

  24. Sattler has never spoken a word that is not bitter and nasty, even before he sank like a stone in the Sydney radio market, even before he failed as a politician. Not being a Howard hugger doesn’t really help, because as Frank points out he dreams of Pauline even now.
    Now Maumill is a more interesting character. The man that introduced Brian Burke to Laurie Connell.

  25. lol, had a thought William, do you record how long it takes for a thread on PB to drift off topic or indeed what % of post are actually on the original topic? 🙂

  26. No 37

    Well, given that there is no method of validating “off-the-record” banter, there is no reason to believe in its accuracy.

  27. Thanks William, I guess the ‘nature of content’ analysis stuff is really the thing to do because it can be consistently categorised, although I guess the heuristic/typology could become quite complex! I actually think radio has much more impact than we credit for the above reasons and because people clearly identify quite strongly with it – all you have to do (in Melbourne, anyway) is listen to the tea room conversations – everyone says they hate Jon Faine but they all listen to him and they get a s#@tload of their info on politics from his show. I guess it’s the same in the other cities (although ABC local rates very well in Mlb) and with the other stations. Jones sptirings to mind, of course. Should be an excellent thesis!

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