How much media oxygen does an election campaign suck up?

The Guardian was the most politics-heavy news website during the election campaign, ahead of The Australian and the AFR, new research shows.

Streem sought to quantify the footprint of a federal election campaign, when compared to standard news coverage of politics.

The analysis found that 4000 more political stories ran in positions of prominence in the nation’s leading newspapers and websites during the election campaign than would normally be the case.

In print, politics represented a 62 per cent bigger proportion of the stories in the front nine pages of leading newspapers than it did in the baseline period (February 4 – March 3).

But it wasn’t quite wall-to-wall coverage: on average, federal politics still made up less than one in three news stories (30.3 per cent) at the front of the paper during the campaign, as compared to 18.7 per cent in February.

Results differed markedly between publications.

The Australian and The Australian Financial Review were the most politics-heavy, with more than half of stories election-related.

At the other end of the spectrum, the NT News and West Australian about doubled the level of federal politics in their papers during the election, but still only ended up with less than one in five stories.

Online, The Guardian nudged ahead of The Australian and AFR to be the most politics-heavy.

To measure online, Streem recorded the five stories at the top of the homepage throughout every day. For The Guardian, more than two-thirds of stories that ran up top during the campaign were related to politics.

That was 10 times more than Perth Now, which had just 6.6 per cent of stories election related.

The average was somewhere in between, at 32.7 per cent across a suite of websites, up from 18.4 per cent of stories normally.

Overall, in the 10 newspapers Streem monitored, there were approximately 1100 more politics stories in the front nine pages during the election campaign than would be there normally, while online featured about 2900 more politics stories in the homepage top fives than normal.

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