As the nation geared up to go to the polling stations, BU staff and students were getting political through analysis, commentary and coverage of 2015’s UK General Election. 


Dr Heather Savigny took to Twitter with The Fawcett Society for their #viewsnotshoes campaign. Aiming to examine sexism in political media coverage, they collected and analysed media coverage of both male and female politicians in the run up to Election Day. The campaign urged the public to alert them to stories that concentrated on female politicians’ appearance rather than their policies using the Twitter hashtag #viewsnotshoes. By highlighting the media bias when it comes to political reporting it is hoped the research can influence a change in attitude towards women in politics.

“Research shows that male politicians are more likely to be reported about than female politicians, and when female politicians are discussed it is much more likely to be about their clothes or appearance," says Dr Savigny. 

"If the mainstream media ‘normalises’ the idea that politics is something men do, then it becomes entirely consistent that female voters are less likely to engage than men, on and offline.”

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An alternative election coverage

As the counts came in on Election night, Bournemouth University students worked through the night to provide alternative, student-focused live coverage of the constituency results as they happened.

Over 300 students from across the Faculty of Media & Communication collaborated to deliver the results online, on television, through social media and on radio using Hope FM’s Dorset frequency.

The team provided unique coverage from a younger viewpoint, with news bulletins, commentary, student-led panel discussions and interviews with special guests such as former MP Dame Annette Brooke and current MP for Bournemouth West Conor Burns.

"It was a huge project, an ambitious effort that eclipses anything I have been involved with inside or outside of university. Everyone knew what they were doing throughout the night and their professionalism showed. Without the enthusiasm of students and the encouragement of staff members it wouldn’t have happened," said Joe Nerssessian, Editor-in-Chief and final year BA (Hons) Multimedia Journalism student.

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Election reflections

In the aftermath of an election where the exit poll predictions got it all wrong, BU’s Dr Dan Jackson and Dr Einar Thorsen captured the initial thoughts, reflections and analysis of the General Election campaign. The pair collected and edited 73 articles written by 92 leading UK academics into a publication called UK Election Analysis 2015: Media, Voters and the Campaign, which was launched at the House of Commons in June. 

Covering everything from female representation and media influence to opinion polls, the booklet aims to examine the relationship between politicians, media and the public. It is published by the Centre for Journalism, Culture and Community at Bournemouth University and the Political Studies Association (PSA) Media and Politics Group, and is available in hard copy as well as downloadable in a PDF format. 

“We wanted to kick-start the debate, putting academic contributions at the heart of it and engaging people while the issues are still fresh," say the pair.

"There’s a wealth of research and a lot of great work going on, but academics are not always very good at reaching other audiences – so it needed to be freely available and written in an accessible way to get different audiences to connect with that work."

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