BethMellor’s Weblog

Postgraduate journalism, news and views.

Media Bias in the American presidential election

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As Barack Obama cruised to victory in the American presidential election this week, the global news media celebrated the result with headlines such as ‘One Man Changes Entire Nation’ (Daily News, New York), and ‘Historic First; Fulfilment of a Dream’ (The Houston Chronicle).

In the aftermath, the impact of the media on this seminal election deserves some analysis. Were the media merely reflecting public support for Obama or were they, in fact, an important factor in fomenting his support base?

Was coverage of the elections biased?

Was coverage of the elections biased?

Whilst I too am thrilled by Obama’s win, and hope that he will be able to deliver on his promise to bring change to America, I think that there could be a small grain of truth in Republican blogs such as this one, which argues that media support for Obama made John McCain’s task all the more difficult.  As this study details, coverage of McCain was far less positive than that of Obama in the run up to the election. And, according to award-winning media commentator Evan Thomas, media bias can add 5% on to vote totals.  

What is more, and with parallels to the coverage of John F. Kennedy in the 1960 American election, Obama’s celebrity seems – at times – to have overshadowed a more detailed analysis of his policies by the media.

Yet Reuters, on the other hand, claim that media bias was “largely unseen” in the presidential race in this article.

This subject desperately needs to be studied in more detail, because it has a bearing upon the fundamental principle of objectivity in journalism. In the words of foreign correspondent Christine Amanpour, journalistic objectivity means “giving all sides an equal hearing”. Whilst I am pleased about this week’s election result, I am not convinced that the media achieved this in their coverage.

Written by bethmellor

November 8, 2008 at 5:24 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Media Bias in the American presidential election Yet Reuters, on the other hand, claim that media bias was “largely unseen” in the presidential race in this article. This subject desperately needs to be studied in more detail, because it has a bearing upon the fundamental principle of … […]


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