Monday, January 30, 2012

Media Corporate Bias and the Keystone XL Pipeline

Corporate media outlets remain the principle means by which most citizens in America obtain information and form opinions about the world and public policy.

If you ask, most people will say they, the viewers, are the customers that television, magazines and newspapers serve. Of course a moments thought is all it takes to realize corporate advertisers are the media's real customers. The revenue generated by the sale of newspapers and magazines is chump change compared with corporate ad dollars. The media industry is mostly interested in their viewership as a means to attract advertising business. No where is the impact of this business model on media content more significant than in the commercial news industry. Despite all the journalistic professionalism of those who work for commercial news outlets, the interests or corporate advertisers has subtle and not so subtle influences on editorial independence and content. What media reports and how issues get reported have a huge influence in framing our political debates.
Media Matters is a non-profit organization that studies and reports on how this influence effects the way the media presents public policy issues. The following excerpts are from a recently released study on media bias with respect to The Keystone XL Pipeline.

From MediaMatters for America: 

A Media Matters analysis shows that as a whole, news coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline between August 1 and December 31 favored pipeline proponents. Although the project would create few long-term employment opportunities, the pipeline was primarily portrayed as a jobs issue. Pro-pipeline voices were quoted more frequently than those opposed, and dubious industry estimates of job creation were uncritically repeated 5 times more often than they were questioned. Meanwhile, concerns about the State Department's review process and potential
environmental consequences were often overlooked, particularly by television outlets.

Pro-Pipeline Voices Were Quoted More Frequently
All But Two Major News Outlets Quoted More Pipeline Supporters Than Opponents. With the exceptions of USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, every news outlet included in this study quoted or hosted more people in favor of the pipeline than opposed.
Analysis of news coverage of Keystone XL pipeline between Aug 1 and Dec 31, 2011, reveals that the media favored pipeline proponents. Also revealed: media framed the pipeline mostly as a jobs issue, repeated discredited industry job estimates and also downplayed environmental concern. Full study here:

  • BROADCAST: Among the broadcast networks, 79% of those quoted or interviewed were in favor of the pipeline. NBC and ABC did not quote anyone opposed.
  • CABLE: On Fox News, 66% of those quoted or hosted were in favor and 13% were opposed. CNN featured 54% in favor and only 14% opposed. MSNBC was the most balanced, with 38% in favor and 31% opposed.
  • PRINT: Of those quoted by the major newspapers, 45% were in favor of the pipeline and 31% were opposed. The New York Times was the most balanced, quoting 35% in favor and 27% opposed. TheWall Street Journal was the least balanced, with 52% in favor and 21% opposed.
Op-Eds/Editorials Supporting Keystone XL Outweighed Those Opposed. The editorial boards of the Washington PostUSA Today, and the Wall Street Journal have come out in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline. Those three newspapers published 16 op-eds or editorials supporting the pipeline and only one opposed. All together, the print outlets published 19 op-eds or editorials in favor of the project and 10 opposed. The New York Times editorial board took a stance against the pipeline.

TV News Coverage Mirrored Pipeline Proponents' Preferred Framing

Media Framed Pipeline As A Jobs Issue. Although the pipeline would lead to a small number of long-term jobs, the potential for job creation from the pipeline was mentioned in 68% of print coverage, 67% of broadcast coverage and 75% of cable coverage.
For the full story please go to

1 comment:

  1. Just a public note of thanks for all of the followers who have joined this site. The support that your interest represents is appreciated.


Please feel free to comment or make suggestions