for diverse, democratic and accountable media
Seeking political opinions from drinkers in the local pub, or from shoppers in the town centre, is a popular device for television and radio journalists and has always had its limitations, but never more so than during the polarised campaign leading up to the European Referendum. Having spent many years myself collecting vox pops – a staple ingredient for any broadcaster out on the road – I know how unrepresentative these on-the-spot surveys can be.
While the ability of pro-Conservative newspapers to manipulate and often dictate the news agenda far outweighed the political impact of a burgeoning online discourse during the 2015 general election, there was no doubt that the power and reach of social media did have a profound effect on the conduct of the campaign. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and host of other inter-active services became the top destination for instant news and comment.
Coming to terms with the trials and tribulations of leading the Labour Party is proving a steep learning curve for Jeremy Corbyn, but he has had plenty of training for the media onslaught that he is having to endure. I know from personal experience as a former BBC political correspondent that Corbyn’s durability under fire should not be underestimated.
Selfies with the party leaders were the breakout craze of the 2015 general election – and the must-see location was definitely the kitchen! A post-election thesis might well seek to establish what proportion of the thousands of people who took selfies actually voted for the political party of the candidate with whom they had chosen to photograph themselves. Judging by the way the leading contenders were photobombed by a sea of mobile phones and tablets, onlookers obviously had an overwhelming desire to capture their moment with a celebrity politician.