A team of researchers from Columbia University and Rutgers University claimed that the mainstream media is not biased, contrary to popular views and opinions. The study said, if the question is whether there is media bias in today’s news cycle and media environment, the answer is “a resounding no.”
However, the study was flawed from the beginning. The study only compared coverage in two media outlets, the New York Times and Reuters. These two outlets, though they represent the mainstream media, are only two examples instead of the countless media outlets and networks, such as ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Salon, Townhall, The Blaze, etc. It seems that the study cherry-picked, or selectively chose, examples that favored the study’s conclusion.
The study’s authors created computer algorithms which aimed to measure “the relative proportion of the difference between negative and positive articles by the two media,” in addition to comparing stories about Trump to “non-Trump” stories and articles.
The study said that both the Times and Reuters used both positive and negative emotions in their Trump-related articles, which the study said proved their neutrality, fairness and unbiased media coverage. Both outlets, according to the study, “did use words with strong emotions, the proportion of positive to negative words was close to 50-50.”
But simply expressing negative and positive emotions is not enough to determine fair media balance and coverage: Word choice is also a helpful guide. The researchers whiffed on this aspect in their study.
Also, the study did not appear to take into account the headlines for stories, which can create bias in media coverage. Recent and past mistakes, such as ABC’s misreporting a gun range video as coverage of the ongoing Syrian civil war, were not mentioned in the study’s news release.
The study failed to prove that the media is unbiased and neutral and further reinforced the perception that not only is the media biased towards progressive and liberal ideals, but so too are academia and universities.