LDV post-conference members’ survey (2): what you thought of the media coverage of the Lib Dem conference

by Stephen Tall on September 24, 2008

Over the weekend, Lib Dem Voice emailed the members of our private forum (open to all Lib Dem members) inviting them to take part in a survey, conducted via Liberty Research, asking a number of questions arising from last week’s party conference in Bournemouth. Many thanks to the 187 of you who completed it; we’re be publishing the results this week on LDV.

Today we look at how the media did its job. LDV asked: It is a common complaint of those who attend party conferences that the media distorts – if it covers at all – what is happening there. The media respond that it is their job to see past how party members view proceedings, and that public interest in conferences is minimal. How accurate and balanced do you think media coverage of the Lib Dem conference has been in general?

Here’s what you told us:

* Accurate and balanced – the media has done its job well and given over about the right amount of space – 3%
* Okay – there was reasonable coverage and it was generally accurate – 49%
* Inaccurate and unbalanced – the media largely ignored what was happening, and distorted much of what they did report – 34%
* Don’t know / no opinion – 14%

So, although a significant minority of you were unhappy with the quality of coverage – regarding it as “inaccurate and unbalanced” – a majority of you (52%) thought the media did an okay job, or better. I think the media will (insofar as they care) view that as a pretty good result, coming as it does from party members and activists.

The individual comments we received broke down into three camps: those who lamented the fact that the Lib Dem conference co-incided with turmoil in the financial markets and the Labour leadership; those who blamed the media four-square for belittling the party; and those (only a handful of you) who felt the party got all it deserved. Here’s a selection:

“If Cameron’s speech gets just 20 seconds at 6.23 pm, I’ll be amazed. But I’ll stop there before I become Mr Shouty.”
I appreciate it was a busy week for the political news agenda, but I was disappointed by the distorted media’s perception of the conference.”
“We’re probably lucky that our conference is covered at all.”
“Poor coverage earlier in the week balanced by OK coverage of Nick Clegg’s speech on specialist political programmes. BBC main news bulletin on Weds was awful. Sky News web site ignored us completely”
“Could have been more coverage, but the economy collapsing around itself was probably a bigger issue, no?”
“Coverage was poor and very sketchy outside the broadsheets and BBC Parliament; and Nick Robinson should be boiled in oil for his posts on the BBC website.”
“Although the media have some good excuses this time (developments in the financial crisis, for example) coverage was not in-depth.”
“It’s irrelevant whether the coverage was reasonable or accurate. The party must drive the publicity agenda better and be less passive.”
“Considering the fact we coincided with Labour infighting and one of, if not the largest economic crisis ever seen, the coverage was better than expected”
“Given the circumstances it was tolerable in the broadsheets. But almost entirely absent in the tabloids, which I suppose is a plus because they usually only report us when it’s bad”
“Although the conference was successful, the media did tend to distort what was actually happening. They minimised some of the debates as irrelevant, for example safe standing at football games. Whilst not relevant to the economy, it is relevant to the millions of football fans around the country. They also attempted at times to portray the tax cuts as a problem for Clegg in the party, even after he’d won the vote.”
“It’s easy to pick out examples of coverage which we regard as unsympathetic, but we should avoid special pleading and recognise the reality that media coverage inevitably over-simplifies and is reductionist. That just puts more of an onus on us to convey a clear message – which is no bad thing.”

LDV post-conference members’ survey (1): why you did – and didn’t – attend the Lib Dem conference.