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UK general election 2024: How 8 top political correspondents are educating voters on socials

Posted by Caroline Edwards in Analysis

4 weeks ago

Political correspondents play a crucial role when it comes to educating the public by using their socials to share breaking news and policy analysis. Journalists and broadcasters from the UK’s leading media outlets are growing their audiences on platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) by keeping their followers informed about the upcoming general election and foreign affairs.

These people are experts and can share breaking news on their personal socials with the press of a button – faster than the information can be published or broadcast via a media platform. Social media also allows these journalists to quickly respond to their followers’ questions or comments. Political correspondents are usually most popular on X and, according to Ofcom’s News Consumption in the UK 2023 report, 17% of Brits use the platform for news.

As the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism’s June 2024 Digital News Report found, TV anchors including Piers Morgan have “switched their focus to online platforms as they look to take advantage of changing consumer behaviour”.

The report also found that 73% of Brits use online media (including social media) for news and 37% cited socials as a news source. It also highlighted how traditional media outlets such as Sky and the BBC are being challenged by creators and youth-oriented outlets including news TikToker Dylan Page, who has more than 11 million followers.

CORQ analysed eight popular journalists across the political spectrum who are educating and updating the public about the 2024 UK general election on 4 July to determine who has the most impact and identify their most engaging content.

1. Laura Kuenssberg

Kuenssberg is a journalist and the host of the BBC One political interview programme Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, which she has fronted since 2022. Alongside this, she co-hosts the BBC’s flagship daily news podcast Newscast with Adam Fleming and Chris Mason. She also writes about politics for the media company’s website and has a newsletter called Off Air with Laura K.

The broadcaster is most popular on X where she has more than 1.4 million followers. Kuenssberg uses the platform to share clips from her interviews and provide updates on politicians and the general election.

Additionally, she has more than 1,400 followers on Instagram, which she uses to showcase her work. Her best performing recent post is a joint Reel with BBC News that reported on Donald Trump becoming the first US president to be convicted of a crime. The video has a 1,479% engagement rate with more than 1.6 million views and 16,900 likes.

2. Krishnan Guru-Murthy

A journalist and presenter, Guru-Murthy is one of the main anchors of Channel 4 News. He joined the media company in 1998. He currently hosts its podcast Ways to Change the World with Krishnan Guru-Murthy and the foreign affairs series Unreported World. In 2023, he competed on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Guru-Murthy has more than 715,000 followers on X and provides insights about UK politics and also highlights Channel 4’s work. On Instagram, he has more than 62,000 followers and his content receives an average engagement rate of 6%. His Carousel post about prime minister Rishi Sunak announcing the date of the general election has a 5.3% engagement rate with more than 3,200 likes.

3. Beth Rigby

The journalist, presenter and podcaster joined Sky News in 2016 and currently serves as the broadcaster’s political editor. She also co-hosts its podcast Electoral Dysfunction with Labour’s Jess Phillips and former Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson. In 2024, Rigby won political journalist of the year at the Royal Television Society Journalism Awards.

On X, she has more than 501,000 followers and her content is a mix of work updates and clips of her interviews. In comparison, she has more than 23,000 followers on Instagram and her posts receive an average engagement rate of 1.37%. Her Carousel about anchoring Sky News’ The Battle for Number 10 live election event has a 2.3% engagement rate.

4. Pippa Crerar

The Guardian’s political editor joined the publication in 2022. Before this, the award-winning journalist was the political editor of The Mirror and during her time at the publication, she helped expose the government’s Partygate scandal in November 2021.

Crerar does not have Instagram but has more than 467,000 followers on X. She shares political news, live updates from events and The Guardian’s latest political coverage.

5. Andrew Pierce

A political commentator with more than 40 years of experience in the media, Pierce is a consultant editor and columnist for the Daily Mail, a political pundit on ITV’s Good Morning Britain and a GB News host. In 2024, he published his bestselling memoir Finding Margaret: Solving the mystery of my birth mother.

Pierce has more than 315,000 followers on X and more than 5,600 followers on TikTok. His content is focused on politics and the royal family, and he also highlights his work and interviews. His post on X from early June about Labour not saying where 40,000 private school pupils will be educated under a “VAT raid” has had more than 779,000 views. His debut TikTok was posted in March 2024 and is also his most viewed video on the platform. It has had more than 182,000 views and 5,000 likes.

6. Anushka Asthana

Asthana is ITV News’ deputy political editor and assists with ITV’s political programme Peston. She previously worked at The Guardian as its editor-at-large and had co-hosted its podcast Today in Focus. She has also worked for Sky News, The Times, The Observer and The Washington Post.

The editor has more than 90,000 followers on X and an audience of more than 1,600 on Instagram. On the former, she discusses politics and reacts to news and memes. On the latter, Asthana shares behind-the-scenes content from filming and her work as a journalist. Her top Instagram post has a 14.2% engagement rate and is about her flying to Washington DC with Sunak to cover his bilat with US president Joe Biden.

7. Steven Swinford

The Times’ political editor joined the paper as deputy political editor in July 2019 and was promoted to his current position in February 2021. Prior to this, he was The Daily Telegraph’s deputy political editor and a reporter for The Sunday Times.

Swinford’s only social media account is X and he has more than 118,000 followers. He informs his audience of breaking and exclusive political news and also promotes The Times’ latest articles. His posts are often in bullet point format to offer his followers easy-to-digest information. His post from June 2024 about Nigel Farage’s Reform UK overtaking the Conservatives in the polls has had more than 1.3 million views, 1,000 reposts and 1,900 likes.

8. Ash Sarkar

A politics and foreign affairs commentator who is a self-defined “luxury communist”, Sarkar is the contributing editor for Novara Media and co-hosts its podcast If I Speak with journalist Moya Lothian-McLean, which launched in February 2024. As a journalist, she has appeared on Sky News and BBC’s Politics Live.

Sarkar has more than 430,000 followers on X, 121,000 followers on Instagram and 26,000 on Threads (which she infrequently uses). On X, she shares her political opinions and views, reacts to news, responds to trolls and promotes her work. Meanwhile, her Instagram content consists of clips from her public appearances and selfies. Her joint Reel with Novara Media in May 2023 has a 23.2% engagement rate. The video is a clip of Sarkar on BBC’s Question Time where she made the case for the renationalisation of water.

By Caroline Edwards, CORQ news and features writer. Picture credit: Beth Rigby via Instagram