Monday, June 17, 2013

Study Finds Supportive Tilt to Gay Marriage Coverage

The New York Times

June 17, 2013

Study Finds Supportive Tilt to Gay Marriage Coverage

News organizations are far more likely to present a supportive view of same-sex marriage than an antagonistic view, according to a content study by the Pew Research Center to be released on Monday.

The researchers assessed a representative sample of mainstream coverage for two months this year, and found that many stories contained either a balanced mix of views or no views at all. But of the rest, roughly five times as many stories were weighted toward support for same-sex marriage as were weighted toward opposition.

"A story was deemed to be in support of or opposition to same-sex marriage if the statements expressing that view outnumbered opposing statements by at least 2-to-1," the report stated.

It added, "The level of support conveyed in the news media examined here goes beyond the level seen in public opinion surveys." The imbalance was evident both in reporting and in commentary, and on all three of the major cable news channels, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.

The study lends credence to conservative charges that the nation's news media have championed the issue of same-sex marriage at the expense of objectivity. Others have argued that news organizations are right not to overly emphasize opposition to what many see as a core civil rights issue.

The researchers noted in their report that many of the developments that the news media were covering were intrinsically positive for the gay rights movement, including votes in favor of same-sex marriage on the state level.

The researchers separately looked at Twitter postings about the topic this year, which were "almost evenly divided between support and opposition for the measure — closely reflecting public opinion."

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