475 constructing the news (9 12) 2012 upPresentation Transcript
Political Science PS 475GMark Peffley
The movie, "Innocence of Muslims," that mocks and insults the Prophet Muhammad caused demonstrators to attack a U.S. consulate in Libya, killing one American, and breached the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
The impossibility of the “mirror” standard.
Questions for us:
1) “News slant” vs. “political bias” 2) What is one of the most important developments in the production of the news in the last part of the 20th century?
Organizational Economic processes Governmental marketplace pressuresPolitical reality News Personal biases of journalists, editors, owners??
Influences on what gets reported (Iyengar)
Vallone, Ross, Lepper. “The Hostile Media Phenomenon: BiasedPerception and Perceptions of Media Bias in Coverage of the BeirutMassacre,” 1985.
Vallone, Ross, Lepper. “The Hostile Media Phenomenon.” Why do informed “partisans” think the news is biased against their views? • The news is too @# balanced! when it shouldn’t be—giving equal time and credibility to the opposition view, which doesn’t deserve such coverage. They think the news would be more fair and objective if their position were portrayed more positively than the opposition. • Partisans engage in selective perception by being more likely to notice and remember the parts of a newscast go against their view and ignore or forget those portions that are consistent with their views
The Hostile Media Phenomenon: Other tendencies at work:People over-generalize from a single article to news media in general People over-estimate the amount of influence news has on others’ opinions People blame the messenger for negative, partisan messages People under-estimate market & organizational forces that shape news
Doing Well and Doing Good by Thomas Patterson, 2000
Content analysis of 5,331 news stories, randomly selected from those available on LEXIS/NEXIS during the 1980-1999 period for two television networks, two weekly news magazines, three leading newspapers, and twenty-six local dailies. The content analysis was limited to the front and local sections of newspapers (thereby excluding, for example, the sports and travel sections) and conventional news broadcasts (thereby excluding programs such as NBC’s “Dateline.”)
1 New York Times 35 Columbus Dispatch2 Washington Post 36 Allentown Morning (Times)10 USA TODAY 37 Arizona Republic (Central)20 Omaha World Herald 38 Denver Post (Media News)21 San Diego Union-Trib(Copley) 39 Indianapolis News (Central)22 St. Petersburg Times 40 Dallas Morning News (Belo)23 Cleveland Plain Dlr (Advance) 41 St. Louis Dispatch (Pulitzer)24 Sacramento Bee (McClatchy) 42 Knoxville News Sent. (Scripps)25 Virginian Pilot (Landmark) 43 Minneapolis Star Trib (Cowles)26 Seattle Times 44 Louisville Courier Jrnl (Gannet)27 Tacoma News Trib (McClatchy) 45 Kansas City Star (Capital/ABC)28 Buffalo News (Buffett) 50 ABC29 Austin American States (Cox) 52 NBC30 Cincinatti Enquirer (Gannet) 60 Time31 Orlando Sentinel (Tribune)32 Houston Chronicle (Hearst)33 Hartford Courant (Times)34 S.F. Chronicle (Chronicle)
Thomas Patterson. 2000. “DOING WELL AND DOING GOOD:How Soft News and Critical Journalism Are Shrinking the News Audience andWeakening Democracy–And What News Outlets Can Do About It. MAJOR TOPIC CODE 01 Government & policy (legislation, political process, policy problems, policy actions) 02 Politics (campaign, vote, political strategy, political maneuvering) 03 Political scandal 04 Political personality (focus on personal traits, family, etc. of political figures) 05 Business & Commerce (but not unemployment, inflation, etc. in a political/ public affairs context— this type of story should be coded as 1) 06 Celebrity (non crime/ non scandal) 07 Celebrity crime/ scandal 08 Crime (but not as a public policy issue, which would be coded as 1) 09 Natural disasters (including potential disasters— such as a hurricane forming in the Atlantic 10 Manmade disasters (including auto accidents and house fires unless caused, e.g., by a lightning strike) 11 Science (including discoveries) 12 Technology 13 Medicine (including medical discoveries, but not health as a public policy issue) 14 Personal health 15 Media (but not as it relates to item 16) 16 Entertainment, Arts, Fashion, Travel Food 17 Religion 18 Sports 19 Legal Affairs (but not as a public policy issue) 20 Education (but not as a public policy issue) 21 Stock Market
All of these trends are more striking for Local Broadcast News. Several leading journalists and foundations (e.g., Pew) made an attempt in the 90s to rally local newspapers to reverse the trend toward soft news coverage: e.g., civic journalism movement. But these efforts much less evident now, as the news industry responded to market forces by embracing more soft news coverage.
Note: Iyengar uses these terms interchangeably, while we try to make adistinction between slant (due to organizational and market pressures) andbias (due to political bias).
The “wall of separation” between editorials and news coverage. How do traditional journalists operationalize “objective” coverage?—i.e., fair and neutral reporting? (Official) sources make the news There are two (conflicting) sides to every story The trend toward more interpretive coverage because it allows reporters to embrace autonomy as well as objectivity
Lichter and Rothman, The Media Elite, 1986Conclusion: Journalists are liberal = the news has a liberal bias a) Evidence? True that reporters are more liberal than population, and that many major prestige newspapers (NYT, Wash. Post) have liberal editorial staffs More journalists (60%) are liberal; 89% of Washington D.C. reporters responding to a survey voted for Clinton in 1996. Reporters Public , 1992 Dems 41% 34% Reps 16 33 Inds 34 31b) Good social science? Sample of journalists? Open-ended comments? Content of the news?
Lichter and Rothman, The Media Elite, 1986 This Study Ignores a Lot: 1.Owners of news outlets? 2.Who controls the news story? 3.Market forces? 4. Professional norms? 5. Empirical evidence from content analysis?!
Conclusion: all sampled news providers -except Fox News Special Report and the Washington Times- are guilty of a liberal bias. Bias, according to the authors’ method, is reflected not in the content of the news, but in the sources (e.g., think tanks) you cite! Are all think tanks equally credible, productive or good at marketing their product? Bias has to take into account the actual content of the news.
D. DAlessio, M. Allen (2012). Media Bias in Presidential Election Coverage, 1948-2008. Major Findings: At least in terms of Presidential election coverage: 1. News coverage has no aggregate partisan bias either way. 2. On the whole, no significant biases were found for the newspaper industry. 3. Biases in newsmagazines were virtually zero as well. 4. Television network news showed small, measurable, but probably insubstantial coverage and statement biases. 5. The New York Times’ straight news coverage is relatively balanced, although another study (Benoit 2005) finds that the tone of its coverage slightly favors Democratic over Republican candidates. 6. The Fox News channel is substantially more conservative in news coverage than the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), which are mostly balanced.
D. DAlessio, M. Allen (2012). Media Bias in Presidential Election Coverage, 1948-2008.What is a meta-analysis? A method for combining results from different studies, in the hope of identifying patterns like aweighted average of effect size across several studies, giving more weight to larger samples, etc. Methodology: • A meta-analysis of 99 quantitative studies containing data concerned with partisan media bias in presidential election campaigns since 1948. • Narrative studies supported by illustrative examples (e.g., Goldberg 2003) were eliminated due to the possibility of contamination due to confirmation bias. • Types of bias considered • Selection bias, which is the preference for selecting stories from one party or the other; • Volumetric bias, which considers the relative amounts of coverage each party receives (minutes, lines, inches, headlines, photographs; and • Valence bias, which focuses on the favorability of coverage toward one party or the other.
D. DAlessio, M. Allen (2000), “Media bias in presidential elections: a meta-analysis.” Journal of Communication 50 (4), 133–156. With respect to potential newspaper bias, the authors looked for partisan bias across newspapers, which does not mean individual newspapers could not be biased. When adding the pro-Republican bias of the Washington Times together with the pro-Democratic bias of the Herald- Leader, the two biases may cancel each other out. The authors found no consistent pro-Democratic or pro-Republican bias, overall. The authors’ findings for mainstream news networks are on more solid ground, but there the degree of bias was very small.
1. Lichter is a well-known conservative 2%2. Their study relied on other studies of 10% news bias3. Their study was done before Fox 0% News and MSNBC became available4. Their study largely ignores the 83% content of the news5. Their study averages across too many 5% news outlets
Kahn & Kenny. 2002. “The Slant of the News.” APSR A. Advantages of study 1. Problem with studying bias in presidential elections. 2. News bias in 60 senatorial races across 3 elections (1988 to 1992): Is the impenetrable wall of separation full of holes? a. Content analysis of paper with largest circulation in the state between 9-1 and election day; 5,529 articles. b. Do candidates endorsed on the editorial page receive more favorable straight news coverage? 3. Controls for: political experience of candidates, campaign spending, closeness of the races, and amount of coverage.
Kahn & Kenny. 2002. “The Slant of the News.” APSR B. Findings: Is the tone of coverage more favorable toward one candidate than the other? 1. Overall tone of coverage: .24 difference 2. Tone of headlines: .17 higher_________________________________NE____E___________________-1 0 (.14) (.38) +1 Key: NE=Not Endorsed, E = Endorsed 2. Unattributed criticisms: 12 fewer unattributed criticisms 3. Substance of Coverage: a. Tone of issue coverage: .23 points higher b. Image/personality coverage not affected c. Horse race: “way ahead,” “big lead,” “safe margin.”
Tone of Coverage1. "The Wyoming and National Education Associations endorsed Democratic Senate nominee John Vinich Monday with the NEA giving him $5,000 for his campaign against two-time incumbent Sen. Malcolm Wallop." Casper Star Tribune, 9/20/88 (positive for Vinich, neutral for Wallop).2. "[Harvey B. Gantt] said during a campaign swing through the Triangle that Mr. Helms had spent his 18 years in the U.S. Senate trying to stomp out such personal demons as communists, liberals, and artists rather than worrying about issues that matter to North Carolina families." The News and Observer, 9/23/90 (negative for Helms, neutral for Gantt).Tone of Headlines1. "Wallop accused of Grandstanding." Casper Star Tribune, 9/11/88 (negative for Wallop).2. "Helms urges support for Bush stand." The News and Observer, 9/6/90 (neutral for Helms).
Attributed Criticism1. "At a Union-sponsored barbeque at North Casper Park, Democrats Bryan, Sharratt, and John Vinich said in inter-views that their opponents—U.S. Rep. Dick Chaney and U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop—have systematically failed to address the problems of Wyomings working people." Casper Star Tribune, 9/6/88 (attributed criticism of Wallop).2. "The Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate repeatedly has attacked Democratic incumbent Tom Daschle for breaking his word on the anti-tax pledge." Argus Leader, 10/18/92 (attributed criticism of Daschle).Unattributed Criticism1. "Vinich was obviously nervous and fatigued at the beginning of the debate." Casper Star Tribune, 10/28/88 (unattributed criticism of Vinich).2. "After insensitively criticizing a TV ad for Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, her main election opponent, Haar found herself in the spotlight." Argus Leader, 10/13/92 (unattributed criticism of Haar).
Tone of Issue Coverage1. "Mr. Gantt says he is willing to consider a tax increase to finance necessary services, but he makes little effort to define how he would tax—what taxes he would choose or not choose." The News and Observer, 9/28/90 (negative for Gantt).2. "South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle says he would lobby a new Clinton administration to rewrite the nations farm program.... Daschle, a Democrat who is running for re-election, wants to boost prices for wheat and other crops by raising government loan rates." Argus Leader, 10/28/92 (neutral for Daschle).Positive Trait"Quayle also endorsed his friend Sen. Malcolm Wallop calling him a man of‘ keen intellect...." Casper Star Tribune, 9/20/88 (positive trait for Wallop).Negative Trait"Mal Hinchley of Pierre, a chemical dependency counselor who served with the Navy Seabees in Thailand, said Haars comments showed a lack of compassion." Argus Leader, 10/10/92 (negative trait for Haar).Horserace1. "Democratic challenger John Vinich has drawn to within 10 points of incumbent Republican Sen. Malcolm Wallop, according to a Democratic Party poll...." Casper Star Tribune, 9/10/88 (competitive for Vinich, competitive for Wallop).2. "Sen. Tom Daschle, a Democrat, leads Republican challenger Charlene Haar 56 percent to 33 percent, with 11 per-cent undecided." Argus Leader, 10/12/92 (sure winner for Daschle, sure loser for Haar).
Kahn & Kenny. 2002. “The Slant of the News.” APSRC. Impact 1. Tone of coverage influences voters: Whom and when? 2. Why does this happen? 3. Overall: very small, subtle political bias in state newspapers. Not necessarily a partisan bias because sometimes papers endorse incumbents who are vastly superior to challengers.