Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Facebook Engagement September 2019: Johnson Outperforms Corbyn for First Time.

On this blog I take a regular look at the activities of the main political parties on social media. In the last month there has been a striking increase in engagement with posts published on the Facebook pages of the Conservatives and Boris Johnson. For the first time engagements with Boris Johnson's posts have overtaken those of Jeremy Corbyn. There were over 1.5m engagements (likes, reaction, shares and comments) with Boris Johnson's posts in September.

The details are set out in the two charts below.

Facebook Engagements: Johnson v Corbyn

Click to enlarge

Friday, September 13, 2019

Pro-Brexit Posts Dominate On Facebook As The Election Campaign Begins

The UK's longest General Election campaign has begun. The earliest date is 22nd November so we have at least two months of campaigning ahead of us. I had look at some of the recent activity on Facebook to see the shape of the early campaign on the social media platform. What is clear is that pro-Brexit posts gain far more interaction than anti-Brexit posts. The top ten posts on Brexit with the most interactions over the last month were all pro-Brexit posts, the top three are shown below.

Friday, July 12, 2019

No Contest: Data Reveals Boris Johnson Wins Social Media Engagement Battle

The Conservative party leadership contest is nearing the end. It is estimated that 72% of ballot papers have been returned and polls indicate that Johnson will win comfortably (Telegraph, 11 July 2019). I decided to take a look at how both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are faring in terms of their social media engagement.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Women More Likely to Leverage Political Podcasts for Social Utility than Men

The old joke on Twitter is that a group of two or more white men is called "a podcast". This observation could also apply to the political podcast audience, my recent survey found that 71% of listeners were men. In this post I explore the gender issue in a little more depth and particularly the findings of statistically significant associations between gender and motivations. The results indicate that women have higher social utility motivations and potentially higher partisanship motivations.


Monday, July 08, 2019

Why do People Listen to Political Podcasts? Initial Research Findings

Political podcasts have become one of the most popular types of podcast (Chan-Olmsted, 2019). Recent download figures reveal The New York Times podcast 'The Daily' is downloaded nearly two million times a day (Evening Standard, 2019) and the BBC 'Brexitcast' podcast was downloaded over six million times in April 2019 (Sofos, 2019). There is clearly something about the nature of political podcasts that resonates with the audience. In my recent survey (n=1,346) I explored what motivates people to listen to political podcasts and whether these motivations are satisfied.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Embedding Podcasts on your Website with Spotify

There have always been a number of audio players that allow you to embed a podcast on your website. One of the easiest is the Spotify player which allows users to play the podcast directly from your site. Below I have embedded the Talking Politics podcast discussion about the latest European elections.




Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Who Listens to Political Podcasts? New Audience Research

Political podcast listening has increased significantly over the last two years and raises questions about adoption patterns in society. Who listens to these political podcasts? My recent survey of 1,346 listeners has found the audience is overwhelmingly male, highly educated and relatively wealthy. The average age of a listener is 41. Listeners discover political podcasts socially with 60% finding podcasts by word of mouth and 46% through social media. There is also a core of committed podcast listeners with 32% of the audience reporting to listen to five or more political podcasts a week. The audience characteristics are similar to an audience study, published earlier this year, of the popular Making History podcast (covering science, history and politics) in Israel which found that 90% of listeners were male, mostly 26 to 45 and well educated with relatively high incomes.  The full details are set out below.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Podcast Audience: What Four Recent Surveys Tell Us

To date there has been little reliable data on the characteristics of podcast listeners. Four recent podcast audience surveys (Edison, 2019; RAJAR, 2018; Westwood One, 2018; Chan-Olmsted, 2019) provide some insights as well as contradictory data on podcast listeners as a whole. At one level it makes little sense to conduct a survey of the overall audience as we can anticipate that audiences will vary from say crime podcasts to political podcasts to sports podcasts. Thus ideally more granular surveys would be conducted, however, they do provide some insights into the podcast audience.


Thursday, March 07, 2019

Latest Podcast Data (March 2019)

Over fifty percent of American adults have now listened to a podcast according to the latest Edison Infinite Dial report which was published yesterday. Podcasts have probably been the slowest growing form of communication technology, with very little growth from 2006 to 2015. However, podcasts are now becoming mainstream. The chart below shows the recent growth in US monthly listening, with 90m monthly podcast listeners or 32% of the population (12+).


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

The Growth of Political Podcasts

The ‘Pod Save America’ podcast “has caused a lot of people, particularly young people, to become engaged in ideas, in politics, in our democracy, like never before and for that I think we owe them something.” Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney, 30 November 2017.

 The ‘Pod Save America’ podcast was launched in January 2017 by ex-Obama staffers with an aim of informing, entertaining and inspiring both action and activism. The podcast aimed to create a ‘younger, more authentic voice’ that covered politics in a way that engages young people by making politics ‘entertaining and even fun,’ and by promising an unmediated “no-bullshit conversation about politics”. They were very critical of mainstream political coverage, did not see themselves as political pundits but rather aimed to become ‘the hub of the resistance’. The creators wanted to own their own show because they wanted ‘to not only be partisan but also activist’. In 2017 the podcast helped raise over $2m for Democrats running for office from over 40,000 individual donors. The podcast was downloaded more than 120 million times by November 2017 and is in the top 20 most downloaded podcasts in the US (Podtrac). Each episode is now downloaded on average more than 1.5 million times.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Book Review: Podcasting: New Aural Cultures and Digital Media 2018

Podcasting is a medium that is arguably going through a ‘golden age’ (Berry 2015; Ganesh 2016). The latest Reuters report (2019) has found that companies are planning to invest more in audio and podcasts in 2019. This rise in popularity is partly due to the ubiquity of smartphones making podcasts readily available. My personal interest in podcasting has grown from listening to an increasing number of political podcasts and this led me to read a recently published book Podcasting: New Aural Cultures and Digital Media 2018 edited by Llinares, Fox and Berry (2018).

I have outlined below some of the key themes from the book.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Diary of a Mature MSc Student - Week 11

It is the end of Michaelmas term and and my fellow students are about to disperse, many travelling back to their home countries. The last few weeks have passed by very quickly, partly as I put pressure on myself to complete my essays before Christmas, hence no blog posts for a while. If you want to speed up time just give yourself a tight deadline. I missed the Xmas party but did get to secret Santa, since you ask I got a thoughtful book of Donald Trump's poetry. Standing at Blackfriars station for the last time this term, as I waited for the Brighton train, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my first term as a mature student.

View From Blackfriars Station

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Diary of a Mature MSc Student - Week 10

The temperature dropped to a few degrees this morning and Christmas lights are springing up across London. The Xmas break has loomed large on my horizon as I have been determined to get my coursework completed before we finish term. My three summative essays are not due in until the 14th January but I want to enjoy the holidays with the family without having to worry about coursework. Time will tell if this was a good strategy as I have been very busy reading and writing over the last few weeks. So much so that I have missed a few lectures and caught up with them using the video recordings.



Friday, November 30, 2018

Political Podcasts: A Growing Form of Political Journalism?

I have previously assumed that it is only political nerds like me that listen to political podcasts. However, last week the most downloaded podcast in the UK for two days in a row was a political podcast: Dial M for Mueller. In the US the New York Times Daily podcast is one of the top ten most downloaded podcasts each week. There also appears to be a growing number of political podcasts, see the political podcasts I listen to and recommend. So who is listening and why?

Podcasting is still a relatively new medium. It generated some initial excitement, with 2005 being called the year of the podcast and ‘‘podcast’’ was chosen that year as the New Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year.  Since then it has continued to grow, albeit as a niche medium. In 2013 podcast subscriptions on Apple's iTunes platform passed the one billion mark. Pew Research has identified a considerable increase in podcast listening in recent years. The number of weekly NPR podcast users passed 5m in 2017.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Diary of a Mature MSc Student - Week 8

When the tutor says bring a calculator with a square root function, you know that the class is going to involve more math than you desire. This week we covered Z statistics which was more fun than it sounds. It was the first time I really had to get out my notepad to write down formulas and plug in numbers. It also made me realise I haven't written anything by hand for a long time.



Monday, November 12, 2018

Diary of a Mature MSc Student - Week 7

It was easy to get a space in the student refectory at lunchtime this week. It is normally busy and bustling with students but this week was reading week. One of our tutors had earlier opined that LSE really stood for 'Let's See Europe' and that seems to be the case during reading week. For myself, it meant getting my head down and completing two more formative essays and thinking about my dissertation.



Friday, November 09, 2018

Post-Truth: Useful Concept or Revenge of the Establishment?

This week I have been researching and writing an essay on truth and journalism. On of the things I have reflected on is the concept of Post-Truth. In the last two years alone over 25 books have been published with "Post-Truth" in the title. I should add I have only read three of these. The concept of post-truth really came to prominence following the Brexit referendum and the Trump election.

There were a few hundred articles written in the months after Brexit about "post-truth" but interest in the concept exploded after Trump's election. There were 1,400 articles written with "post-truth in the title in November 2016 alone, as shown below (data from BuzzSumo).




Saturday, November 03, 2018

Diary of a Mature MSc Student - Week 6

This week my daughter set a very high benchmark for my academic studies. She received a grade of 88% for her MSc dissertation. By contrast my work was used as an example of how not to write an essay.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

National Populism: Notes On A Talk By Matthew Goodwin

Emmanuel Macron's current approval rating is 24%, by contrast Matteo Salvini's approval rating in Italy is 60%.  Across Europe we are seeing the rise of national populists. It was therefore interesting to listen to Matthew Goodwin this week, discussing his new book National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, jointly authored with Roger Eatwell. Here are my takeaways from the talk.

Many journalists and politicians argue populists have stolen elections and referendums through dishonesty and underhand tactics. For example the £350m on the side of the Leave campaign bus or Trump's use of Facebook ads. By contrast Goodwin and Eatwell argue that national populism is driven by four long term trends namely distrust, deprivation, destruction and dealignment.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Brexit Identity Trumps Party Identity

The latest report from NatCen shows that people are more likely to identify with Leave or Remain then with a political party. Seventy seven per cent of people in the NatCen survey felt they identified either very strongly or fairly strongly with a Brexit identity.



Sunday, October 21, 2018

Diary of a Mature MSc Student - Week 4

This week we were studying ethnographic research. This is where researchers immerse themselves in the lives of the people they are studying,with a view to describing their culture and habits. These studies generally take some time to complete. As I studied the texts I did wonder, whether as an outsider to my fellow university students in terms of age and experience, I might be conducting ethnographic research. I am not keeping detailed field notes but I do jot down and take pictures of what I observe each day. Here are some of my notes so far.

On Friday I headed to the library at 9am and found it to be almost completely empty. I think it is fair to say that many of my fellow students are not early risers.



Friday, October 19, 2018

The Contrasting Fortunes of Print and Online Media

The latest UK newspaper circulation figures (September 2018) highlight the continued decline of print media. The ten year figures from the UK Audit Bureau of Circulations are shown below.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Diary of a Mature MSc Student - Week 3 (Reflections on Moving from Entrepreneur to Student)

As an entrepreneur who founded and ran tech startup companies for the last 18 years, I anticipated my return to full-time education as an MSc student would be a culture shock. To my surprise while there are obviously differences, the cultural differences are not so great. Here are my initial reflections.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Networked Technologies and Political Turbulence

This week we have been studying Jodi Dean's theories of Communicative Capitalism. In essence Dean argues social media is depoliticizing and that notions of political activity online are effectively fantasies that do not change anything fundamental. It is a pessimistic view of the affordances of social media to social and political movements. Tonight I attended a lecture my Helen Margetts of the Oxford Internet Institute who had an alternative view.



What's In A Name? The People's Vote Campaign

Last night at LSE Tom Baldwin made an impassioned plea for remaining in the European Union, he made a positive case saying Europe is 'bloody brilliant'. Tom is the Director of Communications for the People's Vote campaign. In his book on 'how politics and the media crashed democracy' he laments the populist cynicism, lies and half-truths undermining the trust in our democracy. I therefore had a question.

Why have they called the campaign to remain in the European Union, via a second referendum, a 'people's vote'? Is this not an example of the cynical populism he criticises in his book?