Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Media Bias, cont'd - Comparing the Ultra's

One of the sub-topics of this blog is the way the medial can distort our perception of events or even history by subtle or not-so-subtle control manipulation the wording. Attaching "ultra" in front of a word can create the image that we are in fanatic territory, for example.

I have previously addressed the topic of using a modifier in some cases and not other cases. If I refer to a Republican and a Democrat senator as "conservative senator R" and "senator D" makes senator R sound more like a radical. If you are thinking from the left side of the issues, there would be no logic in your mind to using the term "liberal senator D" because the liberal side is your norm. So looking at whether or not a modifier is used can be instructive about the perspective of the writer.

Recently I heard the phrase "ultra conservative" used about Fox News. It was a commentator on CNN who said that. Unfortunately I was working and didn't have a chance to note the segment this was on so I can't refer to it directly here. However, it might still be an interesting exercise to look at whether "ultra conservative" is used more or less than "ultra liberal." And because Fox News became a lightning rod for some reason during the recent Tea Party demonstrations, I will compare CNN and Fox News in their use of those phrases.

Here is the result of that little bit of research. Fox News, accused of being "ultra conservative" or even just "conservative" shows a fairly even balance of use of the test phrases. CNN, however, almost avoids "ultra liberal" entirely, showing a balance somewhere North of 90/10.

Does that conclusively convict CNN of bias? No, of course not. But it is one more indication. CNN shows similar results in this new test compared to my previous test of how often news sources used "right wing" vs. "left wing." See that previous result graph:

Do Popular News Sources Lean Left?

1 comment:

Ron Russell said...

What is right, what is left is determined by the position of the observer. If the observer moves then their seems to be movement to the right or left but the reality that the right and left have not moved this is know as the parallax view (an apparent change in position of something due to a change in position of the observer). They was and old movie I think Warren Beatty was in it called the "Parallax View". Found your site by way of twitter, My name their is "russellshih". Visit me sometime at Penny Patch