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Presidential Election 2020

Tips for analyzing a newspaper article

  • Make sure you understand what type of article you are looking at. Is it a straight-news article by someone on the paper’s staff? Is it a straight-news article from a wire service or from another newspaper (e.g., Associated Press, United Press International, New York Times News Service)? Is it an editorial? Is it an opinion column?
  • Consider the placement and “play” of the article. Is it above or below the fold on the front page? Is the article on the front page or on page 10? 
  • Consider the angle and emphasis. What information goes in the lead? To which topics does the article devote the most space? What issues does the article address (or not address)?
  • Where did the journalist(s) writing this article get their information? Which sources get the quotes and points of view presented first/last? Does the article express skepticism about the information, quotes, and statements? Does it express approval?
  • Analyze the headline. Does it accurately summarize the content of the article? Is it sensationalized? Boring? Does it seem more sympathetic to one side or another?
  • How might other people view the article? Are there stereotypes in the article about people of a different gender, race, social class, or religion? Would anyone be offended by what the author wrote about?

Tips for analyzing a TV newscast

  • What do the people giving the news look like? (e.g., gender, ethnicity, age)
  • Where is the news story placed? Is it the lead story? Is at the beginning, middle or end of the newscast? If it is on cable news, is it the top or bottom of the hour?
  • What is the coverage focusing on? Is it focusing on the horse race? Meaning: polls, strategy, and which candidate has more votes in the electoral college. In short, the coverage is focused on who is winning and losing and not the issues.
  • What are the images being used with the story?
  • How do the anchors (in-studio) interact with the reporters (out in the field)
  • What products are being promoted during the commercial breaks?

How to detect bias in media coverage

Who are the sources?

  • Be aware of the political perspectives of the sources used in the story

Is there a lack of diversity?

  • What is the race and gender diversity at the news source you consult compared to the communities it serves?

From whose point of view is the news reported?

  • Political coverage often focuses on how issues affect politicians or corporate executives rather than those directly affected by the issue.

Do stereotypes influence coverage?

  • For example, does coverage of the drug crisis focus almost exclusively on African Americans, despite the fact that the vast majority of drug users are white?