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Helping People off the Fence

Media For Obama?

A Speech by Me (with added links)

 

       Gary woke up and drowsily checked his alarm clock, “5:00; it feels later than that.” He thought drowsily before falling back asleep. When Gary’s alarm clock went off 2 hours later, he was refreshed after a long sleep and quickly got ready for school. Gary was two hours late to school that day. A week later, Gary’s older brother admitted to setting the clock back two hours. That same thing happened to all of us this election year. While we were sleeping, our older brother snuck into our room and defeated the purpose of the tool we use every day. We lost our ability to see clearly what was happening in the world.

This election year, a question was asked; did the media go campaigning for Obama? The Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research group that analyzes the media and how it is changing, has much to say on this question. In their final report, which can be found on Journalism.org under the Analysis tab, they found that, on average, 36% of Obama’s reporting was positive and 29% was negative. Reporting on John McCain, however, was only 14% positive and 57% negative. Ideally, a media outlet would give 100% neutral coverage, but on average, only 35% was neutral for Obama and only 29% neutral for McCain.

The contrast between MSNBC’s coverage and Foxnews’s coverage is even more striking. A shocking 73% of coverage on McCain was negative, 16% higher than the norm. Only 10% of coverage on McCain was positive 19% below average. When it comes to Obama, though, things change. 43% of reporting was positive while only 14% of coverage was negative. Foxnews tells a completely different story, literally. Exactly 40% of coverage was negative for both candidates, but Obama surprisingly received more positive coverage than McCain did, 25% to 22%.

Some may argue that, as the report shows, coverage of Obama only became positive as Obama’s popularity grew. But shouldn’t reporting always be as neutral as possible? And did the popularity encourage the positive coverage, or did the popular coverage encourage the popularity? Others accuse the study of being biased, but a separate study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs, another nonpartisan group, shows similar overall findings.

Whether or not the media won the election for Barack Obama is a question that no one can answer. How large an impact the media had in this election is a question that will never be answered. But we must learn from this, because the next time someone tries to ruin our alarm clock, we need to catch them.

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