Sunday, May 3, 2009

Media Bias Demonstrated in Website Searches

This is a similar post to the one title "Do Popular News Sources Lean Left?" It seemed prudent to update the results, since the previous set were done in the last few months of the Presidential campaign. Now that we are past that and have a new administration, it is possible the results might come out differently.

Here is the technique I used, described as in my previous post. I just tried a simple test. My premise is that when a story uses the term "left-wing" or the term "right-wing" the terms are not meant to be compliments. Whether or not that is true, another factor may come into play in stories. If I lean hard to the left, I may not consider a very liberal source to be left-wing; they are simply "normal" in my eyes. But a source that is conservative would strike me as being right-wing.

So my test was to search popular news sources' websites for those two phrases. Then I counted the results. The chart and graph of the results are below. As you can see, the only two sites that returned more results for "left-wing" than for "right-wing" are, both of which are recognized as a conservative (including by themselves). The other sites seem to show a liberal bias to a greater or lesser degree. Of note is Foxnews, which Democrate politicians and pundits often refer to as the "right-wing" Foxnews, or perhaps the "extremely conservative" Foxnews. Yet in this test they come out with more balance than any other source. It's hard to see in the graph, but Fox's numbers are 52 for left-wing and 48 for right-wing.

Where searches were not dependable on the site's own search engine, I used Google to make sure the two searches were correctly represented. You can click the graph below to see a larger version. (Source data is shown below in chart format)

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