Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Anatomy of a Media Bias Poll

As you can imagine, I get a lot of "media bias" experts reading my blog. This one's for them.

Recently, a study came out that showed McCain had far more negative coverage than Obama. "That proves it!" I said. "Liberal media bias!"
"Not so fast," they said. "The coverage was negative because McCain's campaign wasn't doing well."
So let me get this straight: to gauge media bias, someone counted how many positive and negative stories were written about each candidate? Am I the only one that sees the uselessness of this study?

For all my media bias expert friends, let me tell you how to put together a "media bias" study:

Determine how an organization reports, or fails to report, similar situations of candidates of both parties. If they don't report the same way for each party, there may be bias.

If McCain is closing in on Obama, but he is still down, do they report, "McCain down 3" or is it "McCain closing the gap" or "Voters moving to McCain." Do they report it differently for each candidate? If so, there may be bias.

If two candidates are inexperienced, is their inexperience lampooned equally in the editorial pages? Is it reported equally? If not, there may be bias.

If two candidates (or spouses) have done drugs, is it reported the same? If not, there may be bias.

Are unsubstantiated rumors about both candidates given the same amount of attention? If not, there may be bias.

If, after answering these questions and more, you determine that there is a pattern of reporting similar situations differently (e.g. with either a positive or negative slant), then you have proven that there is media bias.

Has no one done this study? (If it has been done, has it been reported?)

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