If you didn’t know that thousands of teachers went on strike this year, it’s probably because the media outlets you consult didn’t cover the strikes much. “During the Spring of 2018, tens of thousands of teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado and North Carolina walked out of their schools,” Frederick M. Hess and R. J. Martin write in a paper for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). “These teachers were angry about pay, school funding, proposed benefit changes and more.”
Nevertheless, “The New York Times published 17 articles on the walkouts; the Wall Street Journal, 16; the Washington Post, 13; the Los Angeles Times, 10; and USA Today, 3.”
Hess and Martin were surprised that the bias in these stories was not immediately apparent. Looking at headlines and leads, Hess and Martin found that “The framing of teacher walkout coverage was remarkably impartial, with 56 of 59 article headlines and leads displaying no lean toward one side over another.”
•”However, articles quoted people in a way that was more one-sided. Over 80 percent of quotations from teachers, parents, and students supported the strikes.
•”The coverage often failed to present all the relevant perspectives, such as the thoughts of families impacted by the strikes. Of the 254 quotations published, only 5 percent came from an affected parent or student.
•”The coverage also neglected to give readers a clear understanding of teacher compensation. Just 15 percent of articles quantified teacher healthcare benefits, 3 percent quantified pensions, and 2 percent compared teacher salaries to the relevant state’s median household income.”