11 November 2008


Excellent discussion on Slashdot about alleged media bias during the campaign. WaPo reviews its coverage and admits bias towards Obama. Unfortunately, it's not a very convincing case of bias and the Slashdotters have a field day ripping it to pieces. WaPo's proof:

The number of Obama stories since Nov. 11 was 946, compared with McCain's 786. ... From June 4 to Election Day, the tally was Obama, 626 stories, and McCain, 584. Obama was on the front page 176 times, McCain, 144 times; 41 stories featured both.

Wow. Bias has a pretty even hand these days. It's a shame that they even ran with this story since so many people still believe in the boogeyman of liberalmediabis. A summary from the comments:

I don't see this as evidence of bias on the part of reporters, I see it at evidence of the Democratic Primary running as long as it did.

Also, the Republican campaign(s) threw a lot of mud which of course prompted coverage. If Mccain hadn't put Obama in the news so much, he wouldn't have been in the new so much. If the accusations had more merit the resulting coverage wouldn't have been as positive as it was.

Do the numbers factor in Sarah Palin at all? ... She was in the news quite a bit, at least a HECK of a lot more than Biden. I'm not saying her press was "good" but there was a lot of it.
It wasn't so much that McCain sucked, it was that McCain was BORING. Here was a long-time known political player, running in an unpopular party with an unpopular leader, with a message that seemed to be an echo of the same old Republican Party platform that has governed the country for most of the last 8 years. Then here comes Obama--a fresh, young, handsome guy with a message of change; drawing HUGE crowds at his rallies, inspiring worldwide excitement, defeating a CLINTON in the primaries, and having the historic distinction of being a black guy with a serious chance at winning the Presidency.

Bias aside, word-count is a sucky metric to use as so absolute a barometer of a complex issue like "bias." The guys over at Language Log regularly use Google-hit-count to compare similar phrases (e.g. "could care less" v. "couldn't care less") to determine what's more commonly used. And even though they're comparing count to common use, they don't put too much emphasis on it. Here, people are arguing that more words is better words, and yet Palin's coverage proves the opposite.

[ updated 14 Nov 2008 ]

Editor and Publisher weighs in and agrees with the Slashdotters: the word-count numbers are too minor, the content is ignored re positive/negative, and reporting notable news on one side doesn't mean you're ignoring the other side if they simply did not have anything notable to report on. They also question what "the media" really is: talk radio (too often and for too many, it is)? blogs? news aggregators? Again, it's a shame that this is brought up to give weight to the tinfoilhatters.

[ posted by sstrader on 11 November 2008 at 5:38:28 PM in Culture & Society ]