Online and social media “enriched” mainstream election coverage, despite the dominance of the televised leaders’ debates, a new study of the UK’s 2010 general election suggests. The report ‘UK election 2010: mainstream media and the role of the internet: how social and digital media affected the business of politics and journalism’, authored by the co-founder of the BBC News website Nic Newman, presents findings from interviews with more than 20 people, including journalists, political bloggers and founders of political websites. The results show that Twitter in particular has become a “core communication tool” in political and media circles, says Newman. With more than 600 party political candidates using the service during the election, it became “an essential source of real-time information for journalists and politicians”, he says. For the study, the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ) also conducted a survey of more than 200 18-24-year-olds, which suggested that “unprecedented levels of participation” with the general election were a result of increased social media coverage. The use of social media tools by journalists and mainstream news sites, such as liveblogs and digital correspondents, “helped to amplify the impact of social media even further” on this age group, says the study.