Title page for ETD etd-04032006-214922

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Cummings, Jr., Jimmie E.
URN etd-04032006-214922
Title Unbalanced Media Coverage and the 2004 Presidential Election: The New York Times Vs. the Washington Times
Degree Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
Department Mass Communication
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Judith L. Sylvester Committee Chair
Louis A. Day Committee Member
Robert Kirby Goidel Committee Member
  • agenda setting effects
  • priming
  • unbalanced media
  • media bias
  • agenda setting
Date of Defense 2006-03-30
Availability unrestricted
The purpose of this study was to find out if either The New York Times or The Washington Times participated in unbalanced media coverage during the last two weeks of the 2004 Presidential Election. Through content analysis paragraph tone was used to evaluate news stories, columns, and editorials as positive, negative or neutral from a composite week sample.

Scholars, politicians, the public as well as journalists have long argued about the existence or not of media bias and whether it is in support of liberal or conservative politics. This study was not an attempt to pick a side in that confrontation. Instead, a goal of this research was to provide additional data along with testing methodology, in the hope that it would contribute to the work that has already been accomplished in moving toward evaluation criteria for identifying media bias.

The findings from this study provided evidence of unbalanced media coverage from both news organizations during the particular period of study. The biggest surprise was that The Washington Times was more unbalanced than The New York Times, 64.9% to 56.3%.

Data from this study supports the previous research that claims a presence of liberal bias as well as a possible attempt by conservative elites to create and support a perception of media bias. The evidence uncovered also supports agenda setting and priming as well as some agenda setting effects.

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