federal election
Google Search results, Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Crikey)

Elections were once painted by the press pack as the journalistic equivalent of David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps. Look, there! See the leader on his high horse surmounting obstacles on the way to victory, with the press bus just behind, out of the picture.

The media painted the grand narrative of an election. Now, there’s hardly a single election at all. Instead, we have a whole lot of elections going on at the same time and journalists are struggling to adapt. We need to be painting Bosch’s triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights -- a complex portrait of small delights and despair. This is not something you can do from the bus. 

By getting off the bus, journalists are starting to pick up some of the tools needed to paint this vast landscape: the parties’ targeted Facebook ads, Twitter trends, Google search results and data points like the surge in registration and early voting.