Study: Network coverage biased toward GOP

Feb. 24, 2009 at 6:14 PM

BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The major U.S. broadcasters demonstrated bias in favor of Republicans in their coverage of presidential campaigns between 1992 and 2004, a new book contends.

Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Erik Bucy, both associate professors of telecommunications at Indiana University, are the authors of "Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections" published by Oxford University Press. They analyzed coverage of the elections on ABC, CBS and NBC and concluded all three networks showed a slight tilt to the Republican side.

"We don't think this is journalists conspiring to favor Republicans. We think they're just so beat up and tired of being accused of a liberal bias that they unknowingly give Republicans the benefit in coverage," said Grabe. "It's self-censorship that journalists might be imposing on themselves."

The authors found a trend toward more visual coverage of campaigns and away from sound bites during that period.

Grabe, a former journalist with the South Africa Broadcasting Corp., and Bucy examined footage between Labor Day and the election in all four election years. They found more single-party stories about the Republicans in every year except 1992.

They also found Republicans were likely to get more flattering camera work -- they were less likely to be shown in tight closeups or from a great distance, and were more likely to be photographed from a low angle.

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