Diversity, Inclusivity, and the News: Coverage of the 2014 New Zealand General Election

Verica Rupar, Thomas Owen, Sarah Baker


Upon winning his third term as Prime Minister, John Key announced that he would lead a government for “all New Zealanders.”  This study takes this statement of inclusivity as its point of departure for an analysis of diversity issues within the 2014 General Election news coverage.  Conducting a content analysis of 575 New Zealand Herald, Morning Report, and One News at 6pm news stories from the four weeks leading up to Election Day 2014, the study examines who gets to speak in the coverage, and who and what gets spoken about.  News media provide a crucial function in democratic societies, one never so indispensable during election times.  For a cosmopolitan and diverse contemporary nation-state such as New Zealand, issues of inclusivity and representation become critical considerations for news media tasked with providing all citizens the information they require to participate in democratic governance.  This study finds that despite the initial appearance of an election out of the ordinary, dominated by scandal, surprise, and the influence of minor parties, the statistical data on the election coverage presents a picture of a traditional status quo - dominated by male, white, major party, affluent voices, in a media gaze consumed with political process over political issues. 

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11157/medianz-vol15iss2id146


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