Thursday, January 26, 2012

Slanted Media Coverage of the Keystone XL

Balance in reporting by major US outlets
The Canadian media is certainly slanted towards the pro tar sands angle.  Just today, an article quoted three MP's and Harper and not one Aboriginal voice or environmental position.  It's almost as if silence has descended on this issue.

Media continued to frame the story as a jobs issue, as a cudgel by which to punish Obama's reluctance to move forward with a nasty Republican power struggle, and as an ethical oil alternative.

Breakdown by medium and message bias
Television often played down environmental risks.  That's a surprise, given that the Concordia disaster played constantly as front page news.  Normally, disasters make good press.  I guess not oil spills.  Protesters were often seen being dragged away, or were called "actors".

Headlines are extremely important in digital culture as this determines whether we pay attention or not.  A continuation of positive headlines made the story seem to be always a "no brainer". 

Of those quoted by the major newspapers, 45% were in favor of the pipeline and 31% were opposed. The New York Times was the most balanced, quoting 35% in favor and 27% opposed. The Wall Street Journal was the least balanced, with 52% in favor and 21% opposed.
I'm sure if you used an aggregator to determine sentiment, one would find that the same lack of balance would be found in social networking sites like Twitter, Blogs and rss feeds.  So we do have the same perceptions repeated in the minds of the readers and media consumers.  Don't forget too that there is a huge media machine pushing the tar sands in the social media.

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