An analysis of the Straits Times coverage of the last three general elections
Lee, L. H. L.
Date of Issue1997
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
This study aims to analyze changes and trends in newspaper coverage of the Singapore general elections over a decade. In view of the trend of declining votes for the ruling PAP coupled with an increase in votes for the Opposition, this study analyses whether election coverage has moved away from the 'pro-PAP and anti-Opposition' slant towards more neutral and non-partisan grounds; and whether there is increasing and more favorable coverage of the Opposition over the years. This longitudinal study uses content analysis of the Straits Times articles over three General Election campaign periods in 1988, 1991 and 1997. It includes analysis of specific details such as the articles' length, headlines, use of photos and graphics, page position, reporter identity, as well as more general descriptions of news topics reported and the overall slant of the article in both qualitative and quantitative terms Data is presented mainly in graphs, while the corresponding tables of original percentages are inserted in the Appendix. The findings generally indicate few changes and if any, only slight changes, in general political reporting over the three campaigns. Overall, newspaper coverage of the elections is more in favour of the PAP than the Opposition, but this cannot be directly attributed to bias in newspaper reporting. The reasons are discussed in the later parts of this paper. Three veteran journalists, who each have been with the Straits Times for at least six years and have covered multiple elections, were interviewed for the purpose of this study. Their comments on general political reporting in Singapore over the years, as well as on some of the findings of this study are included.
Final Year Project (FYP)