With so many changes in the way news is reported, received and interacted with since just 2010, our debate in conjunction with Pagefield, The Internet, Newspapers and the 2015 Election, brought together a panel well positioned to look ahead to next May.
Isabel Hardman of The Spectator and the Daily Telegraph (and a recent nominee for the London Press Club awards) was in the chair for the event, which was held at the Telegraph offices in Victoria. The panel comprised: Harry Cole, news editor, Guido Fawkes; Mark Ferguson, editor, Labour List; Christopher Hope, senior political correspondent, Daily Telegraph; and Jim Waterson, political editor, Buzzfeed UK.
With not only a capacity crowd in the conference theatre but being streamed live on the Telegraph website, the event’s hashtag #vote2015 was trending on Twitter, with viewers joining in from home, work and even Ibiza.
Ferguson said one of the biggest challenges for parties to adapt to was that news was shaped throughout the day, rather than by newspaper front pages. He described the tendency during the last few elections for different comms strategies for the internet as “nonsensical”, the panel agreed that the parties were improving, but still had room for improvement. Cole said that of the main parties only the Conservatives are currently “on it” with Twitter. Hardman added that “the great thing about Twitter is that it fact checks you in real time”.
Making a reference to the Pixar film Up, Cole spoke about his theory of ‘squirrels’ to distract from the other parties announcements, citing the recent Labour owl tweet.
On Buzzfeed, which launched in the UK last year and reported 15m unique users domestically last month, Waterson said that politicians were still struggling to understand that sites can have both jokes and serious stories. He spoke of the site’s policy of changing headlines and seeing which one generates the most interest – and cited his personal favourite headline as ’21 Pictures of Politicians Staring at Floods’.
Addressing how established media is keeping up with newer competitors, Hope described the Telegraph as “platform-neutral and totally engaged online”.