Washington Post Ombudsman: ‘3 to 1’ Obama Front Page Advantage

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on August 20, 2008

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Directions

Read the excerpt below (from MediaResearch.org). Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell reviewed how many stories the newspaper put on the front page about John McCain and Barcak Obama over the past ten weeks and discovered a wide gap in favor of Obama, a “disparity,” she declared, “so wide that it doesn’t look good.” Howell, the Washington Bureau chief and editor of Newhouse News from 1990 until 2005, outlined in her weekly Sunday column what she determined: “Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party’s presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain — and therefore there’s more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn’t look good.”

Specifically, “in overall political stories from June 4 to Friday, Obama dominated by 142 to 96. Obama has been featured in 35 stories on Page 1; McCain has been featured in 13, with three Page 1 references with photos to stories on inside pages.” That “dovetails with Obama’s dominance in photos, which I pointed out two weeks ago. At that time, it was 122 for Obama and 78 for McCain.”

Read the original post at MediaResearch.org.

Read ombudsman Deborah Howell’s evaluation at washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/15/AR2008081503100.html.

Questions

NOTE:  A news ombudsman receives and investigates complaints from newspaper readers or listeners or viewers of radio and television stations about accuracy, fairness, balance and good taste in news coverage. He or she recommends appropriate remedies or responses to correct or clarify news reports. (Read more at newsombudsmen.org.)

1.  What is the Washington Post ombudsman implying by the statement that “the disparity [in Post news reports about Obama over McCain] is so wide that it doesn’t look good.”
2. 
Why do you think that the Washington Post printed so many more stories (and front page stories) about Democratic Senator Obama than Republican Senator John McCain?


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  Ombudsman Deborah Howell is implying that the Washington Post favors Barack Obama.
2.  Opinion question.  Answers vary.  (One possible answer: The Washington Post printed so many more stories about Senator Obama because their reporters/editors support him and want him to win the presidential race.)