The findings, which cover two sample days of coverage a week during the first two months of the referendum campaign immediately after David Cameron's post-summit Cabinet meeting on 20 February, find that of the 928 articles focused on the referendum, 45% were in favour of leaving compared with only 27% in favour of staying in the EU. Of the remainder, 19% of articles focused on the referendum were categorised as ‘mixed or undecided’ and 9% as adopting no position.
The findings also reveal that newspapers have been more likely to quote Conservatives in the first two months of the campaign. Of the total number of spokespeople quoted in the articles, 36% were UK politicians, of whom 69% were Conservatives and just 14% Labour.
Positions vary greatly between newspapers: Daily Mail included the most pro-Leave articles followed byDaily Express, Daily Star, The Sun and Daily Telegraph. The newspapers including the most pro-Remain articles were, in order, Daily Mirror, The Guardian and Financial Times. The study says the articles examined in The Times were relatively evenly balanced between the two positions, with a slight preponderance of pro-Leave articles. All newspapers, whatever their main position, included some articles presenting the other point of view; however, the proportion of these was smallest in Daily Expressand Daily Mirror, says the study.