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Running head: Media Bias 1

Media Bias

Brigid Fegeley

Arizona State University


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Abstract

In this paper, I will explore the most pressing factors that lead to biases in the media. I

feel that the unbalanced political-party affiliations and the role that social networking sites are

the two biggest factors in media bias. However, I think that social medias role in news reporting

today is the biggest factor when it comes to media bias.

Keywords: Media bias, affiliations, social media


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Media Bias

What used to be an important value to the integrity of journalism is quickly falling by the

wayside. That value is objectivity. As a journalism major, this idea has already begun to be

ingrained in my mind, as well as the minds of my peers. However, with journalism growing less

and less objective in the digital age, media bias is becoming more prevalent and apparent.

Although there are many reasons for media bias, perhaps the first and most significant reason for

it is the role that social media plays in news reporting today. Biases in the media have created a

tumultuous environment, especially with the rise of people getting news from social media sites

like Twitter or Facebook. As a result of people flocking to social media, fake news stories often

get shared around and sometimes even go viral before people realize its fake. Furthermore,

networks now have a reputation for leaning to one side of the political spectrum. NBC and CNN

are thought to have a more liberal bias, while FOX is thought to have a more conservative bias.

Media bias has become more apparent in this digital age, especially with all the politically

charged stories in todays news cycle.

Like all opinions or arguments, there are two sides to this media bias debate. Some

arguments that might arise from this topic is that the media isnt biased at all. Dave DAlessio,

associate professor at the University of Connecticut is an advocate for this stance. DAlessio has

been studying alleged media bias in presidential elections from 1948, beginning with Franklin

Delano Roosevelt, and ending after the election of Bill Clinton in 1997. In the 50-year time

frame that DAlessio studied closely, he found no evidence of rampant media bias.
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Although DAlessio found evidence of it in 1948, he was able to trace it back to the very

early days of the media, with Thomas Jefferson complaining about the media in early writings,

as well as threats to shut down newspapers entirely.

DAlessio claims that bias is simply a perception that people have. He supports this claim

by referencing something called Hostile Media Effect. In short, when people see something in

the news, they automatically see coverage that goes against their beliefs. However, while hostile

media effect is a phenomenon that could definitely account for a certain degree of resistance

towards the media, it is simply that: a phenomenon. There is no medical evidence that lists

Hostile Media Effect as some sort of medical condition that impairs people to act a certain way.

DAlessios claim that bias is simply not real can easily be disproved (or disputed, at

least) by a recent study done at Harvard University. Researchers at Harvard were able to use

Media Tenor and curate a chart comparing how ten different media sources (seven from the

United States and three from Europe) report stories pertaining to President Trump, using topic,

source, and tone as their tool. Additionally, it compares the news coverage of the previous five

presidents as well. This study revealed that CNN and NBC, two sources that I consider to be

toeing the line of completely liberal had the highest percentage of negative news coverage

when it came to reporting on stories about President Trump. Unsurprisingly, Fox News had the

lowest percentage of negative news coverage, but about 52% of their stories pertaining to the

president had a negative tone to them. In my opinion, this is pretty damning evidence supporting

the thought of media bias. It further proves how majority of mass media is not objective in the

slightest.
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There are many other factors that have led to biases in the media. While news

corporations may not be founded with a bias at first, over time, one becomes apparent. However,

this is not entirely the corporations faults. In a digital age such as today, I think consumers of

news have had some influence on how a certain company portrays itself. If a majority of NBCs

viewers identify as more liberal, theyre going to report what their audience wants to hear. By

doing this, news companies suddenly have aligned themselves with a certain political affiliation.

Furthermore, with the rise of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, its suddenly

much easier to have access to news 24/7. This doesnt come without faults, however. While

people can access news stories at all times, it also opens the door for fake news to be spread.

For example, a YouTube comedian known as Sam Hyde has been (falsely) accused of being

involved in multiple mass shootings, dating back to at least the shooting in San Bernardino, CA,

in December 2015. In the first few chaotic hours after a deadly shooting, Hydes name is almost

always reported as if he is a suspect, even by networks such as Vice and CNN, which are two

trusted news sites. As both a consumer of news and a journalism major, I find mistakes and

hoaxes like this incredibly frustrating, as well as annoying. When major networks such as those

mentioned above dont do something as simple as a name check, its disheartening. While I am

well aware that different news companies have to fight to get the first story out to audiences, I

think

Another downside of having constant access to news is the spread of viral

propaganda-type images. The one that stuck out to me the most was a chart that ranked all of the

well-known media sources (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, FOX News, MSNBC,

etc.) on a scale of Liberal and Utter Garbage/Conspiracy Theories to Conservative and Utter
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Garbage/Conspiracy Theories. The creator of this chart listed no sources or reasoning for the

ratings. Additionally, in making this, the creator shows readers his or her own bias as well as

how little research was put into it. The New York Times is listed as Mainstream, meaning that

there is a minimal partisan bias, but a five-minute Google Search about media bias reveals an

editorial written by a former New York Times editor that there is in fact a bias in the New York

Times newsroom. An even quicker Google Search wouldve given someone the book, Bias: A

CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. In this book, Bernard Goldberg uses his

30 years of inside knowledge from being a CBS correspondent and tells readers of different

examples of media bias. While CBS isnt directly featured on the chart Im referring to,

Goldberg does directly name Peter Jennings, an anchor for ABC World News as a biased

individual, further calling into question the charts placement of ABC News as Mainstream.

The poor planning and research that went into this chart makes it even more apparent to me how

prevalent media bias is today.

I think one other important factor in media bias is the fact that as of 2013, only 7.1% of

journalists identify as Republicans, whereas 28% identify as Democrats and a whopping 50.2%

identify as Independents. While the vast majority identify as Independent party members, this

still outlines a higher probability that any kind of news story will have a democratic or liberal

spin on it. In order for there to be a completely objective and fair media, there has to be an equal

balance of journalists on all sides (Republican, Democrat, Independent). While an even 33.3%

split between all three parties is pretty impossible, there definitely shouldnt be a 43.1% gap

between two party affiliations.


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As Bernard Goldberg stated in his book, journalists, people who are supposed to be

completely objective and fair, notoriously mingle with those who agree with their way of

thinking. To be quite honest, I find it incredibly immature when people (grown adults,

specifically) simply cannot associate themselves with people who have different opinions than

them. I have friends who are more liberal than me and I have friends that are a lot more

conservative than me. We try to not talk about hot issues, but if it comes up, were able to

discuss it respectfully.

While I talked about multiple different factors of what causes media bias, I still

believe that social media is the biggest catalyst. Social media allows people to follow, read, share

only news articles from sources they want to share and read. This helps alienate news consumers

and could even make them more close-minded. I think by encouraging more news organizations

to share articles, even about nothing important, from the other side, it could discourage such a

blatant bias from newsrooms.


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References

Alternate Reality: Viral Propaganda Chart Demonizes Independent Media. (2016, December 14).
Retrieved October 19, 2017, from
https://www.infowars.com/alternate-reality-viral-propaganda-chart-demonizes-independent-medi
a/

Stanley, T. (2017, April 30). Trump is right about media bias. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from
http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/30/opinions/trump-is-right-about-media-bias-stanley/index.html

Gold, H. (2014, May 06). Survey: 7 percent of reporters identify as Republican. Retrieved
November 13, 2017, from
https://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2014/05/survey-7-percent-of-reporters-identify-as-republi
can-188053

Brisbane, A. S. (2012, August 25). Opinion | Success and Risk as The Times Transforms.
Retrieved November 13, 2017, from
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/opinion/sunday/success-and-risk-as-the-times-transforms.ht
ml?_r=4&smid=tw-share

Goldberg, B. (2002). Bias: a CBS insider exposes how the media distort the news. Washington,
DC: Regnery Pub.