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Bias in Election Coverage: The Top Three Cable News Networks’ Framing of Content, and their Reporting on the 2012 United States Presidential Election
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media, Media and Communication Studies.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

News coverage of a political campaign highlights the issues that are deemed important to attract a higher rate of viewers by those who have the power of decision in the media. The host/s or moderator of the news program acts as mediators between political actors and the citizens who consume the news. Following the Society of Journalism Code of Ethics, the responsibility of media organizations is to serve the public interest by presenting both sides of the political campaign through information, coverage and political actors in an informed unbiased manner. The researcher analyzed cable news programs on ten key dates during the course of the last four months of the 2012 Presidential Campaign in the United States. Content analysis was conducted of the three main cable news channels in the United States: CNN, FOX and MSNBC whose slogans are The Best Political Team on Television, Fair and Balanced and Lean Forward respectively. These slogans give the impression of a fair mindset where only the straight facts will be presented. Three programs were selected from each channel at comparable times with comparable formats, where the researcher used an ethical mindset combined with knowledge of slogans, history and selected theories to examine the unbiased claims. To identify any presence of bias, the researcher coded each individual broadcast based on its level of perceived bias or neutrality, when discussing, analyzing exactly how the host/s discussed and presented the trending topics. Each program was given a score of very or slightly bias in favor of the right or the left or they were deemed neutral. The results showed that each program followed a trend of bias, but was not always consistent. The ranks assigned to the nine different programs were assigned based on small criteria detected through the research process. Bias was detected, but the different programs were not consistently biased; it was the topics and the level of interest of the hosts/s that determined the bias present in each program. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 141 p.
Keyword [en]
Cable News Networks, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Media Bias, 2012 Presidential Election, Framing Theory, Agenda-Setting, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Political News Coverage, Media and Politics, Talking Points, Argumentation Theory, Gatekeeping, Paul Ryan, Joe Biden, Bias Reporting
National Category
Media Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-202735OAI: diva2:633141
Subject / course
Media and Communication Studies
Educational program
Master Programme in Social Sciences
2013-05-30, Uppsala, 09:30 (English)
Available from: 2013-06-26 Created: 2013-06-26 Last updated: 2013-06-26Bibliographically approved

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