US media bias on same-sex marriage revealed

A strong media bias towards same-sex marriage in the United States has been revealed in a study conducted by the independent Pew Research Center.

An analysis of reporting during a period when the issue was before the US Supreme Court found that stories predominantly supporting same-sex marriage outweighed those predominantly opposing it by 5-1.

This result did not match public opinion on the issue, with Pew research showing that same-sex marriage was supported by 51 per cent of the public and opposed by 42 per cent.

The study found that bias was present in news stories as well as opinion pieces and across all media sectors.

All three of the major cable networks, including Fox News, had more stories with significantly more supportive statements than opposing.

Huffington Post was perhaps the most biased mainstream written-news outlet, with 62 per cent of stories supporting same-sex marriage and only 7 per cent opposing it. Huffington Post’s coverage showed similar support to that of the gay community’s news outlets studied.

But Twitter postings on the subject were nearly evenly split between support and opposition for same-sex marriage, aligning much more closely with public opinion than with the news media.

On Twitter that margin was even thinner: 31 percent of tweets supported gay marriage, 28 percent opposed it and 42 percent of tweets were deemed neutral.

Two publications the Pew study singled out for their restraint were USA Today (67 per cent neutral) and the Wall Street Journal (70 per cent neutral).

In the coverage studied, Pew said the central argument among proponents of same-sex marriage was one of civil rights. Arguments against were more varied, but most often voiced the idea that same-sex marriage would hurt society and the institution of traditional marriage.

Pew concluded: “The findings show how same-sex marriage supporters have had a clear message and succeeded in getting that message across all sectors of mainstream media.”


Deseret News


Image: Media Research Center

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