quest report: “news media bias in 2008 presidential election” by Arvind Diddi

Submitted by Aubrey Mulvey

This Quest program was a content analysis of the television coverage of the 2008 presidential election through broadcast, cable, and public television. The program started with Diddi giving an example of bias in media. He pulled up an article which had the headline “CNN is less biased than Fox.” The speaker of the quote was none other than Newt Gingrich. This has drawn attention back to bias in media, particularly in television. Apparently Newt Gingrich made this claim feeling Fox was biased towards his political opponent Mitt Romney.

According to the presenter, news viewership has seen an increase in the past year. Network TV evening news is watched by 21.6 million people during a presidential election. It is very important that television reporting remains unbiased, given its effect on public opinion and influence on registered, undecided voters who are following the campaign by night to try to decide where to vote. But viewers are becoming increasingly aware of media bias. According to the presenter 55% of Americans believe news media is politically biased. This is a 10% increase since the 1980s.

We then broke down the television coverage of the Obama vs. McCain campaign. Diddi said 846 stories having partisan assertions were published by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and PBS — 425 of these stories were favored by Democrats, 48% of the stories were favored by Republicans and there was a balance of about 10%. It was also noted that cable and public television gave stories for both parties fairly equally while broadcasting networks appeared more uneven.

This was an intriguing program which brought more attention to the ethics of media.

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