Edited By Esther Thorson, Mitchell S. McKinney and Dhavan Shah
Chapter Twenty-One: The Origins of Media Perceptions: Judgments of News Accuracy and Bias Among Adolescents
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CHAPTER TWENTY - ONE
The Origins OF Media Perceptions
Judgments of News Accuracy and Bias Among Adolescents
PORISMITA BORAH AND DHAVAN SHAH
During presidential campaigns, questions of news media accuracy and bias become the focus of much attention and debate. Given that news media coverage is related to public opinion about the presidential candidates (Domke et al., 1997), contenders are determined to ensure that media coverage does not favor their opponents. Despite claims to the contrary, research has found limited evidence of the existence of political media bias during presidential campaigns. Although some suggest a slight liberal bias in terms of sound bites during the 1992 and 1996 campaigns (Lowry & Shidler, 1998), other research has found little or no consistent political bias (Johnson, 1993; Watts, Domke, Shah, & Fan, 1999). Rather than an ideological bias, news values of conflict and the use of horse-race coverage of the campaigns may encourage a front-runner bias in coverage (Johnson, 1993).
Nonetheless, perceptions of media bias are a fixture of modern electoral politics. This perception has risen consistently across and within campaigns, with perceptions of a liberal bias rising most dramatically. One explanation for the increase in perceptions of poor media performance is that it is not actual bias that drives these perceptions, but media coverage of political elites’ accusations of bias (Watts et al., 1999). Others assert that there is also an interpersonal dimension to these perceptions,...
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