Thursday, December 22, 2005

Grossclose and Milyo Media Bias Study debunked

Media Matters - Former fellows at conservative think tanks issued dubious and flawed UCLA-led study on media's "liberal bias"
Any quantitative study of this sort must take a complex idea -- in this case, "bias" -- and operationalize it into something that can be measured. But given its rather odd operationalization of "bias," it is perhaps unsurprising that the study's scheme leads to some categorizations no observer -- on the right or the left -- could take seriously...

Although the authors seem completely unaware of it, in reality there have been dozens of rigorous quantitative studies on media bias and hundreds of studies that address the issue in some way.

Standard scholarly practice dictates the assembly of a literature review as part of any published study, and meta-analyses, as they gather together the findings of multiple studies, are particularly critical to literature reviews. That Groseclose and Milyo overlooked not only the Journal of Communication meta-analysis, but also the 59 studies it surveyed, raises questions about the seriousness with which they conducted this study.

Indeed, they seem to be unaware that an academic discipline of media studies even exists...

Even if their study were not riddled with methodological red flags and results that lack what scholars call "face validity" (or what is more commonly known as the "laugh test"), the notion that "bias" can be assessed by matching think tank citations of news organizations and members of Congress seems questionable in the extreme.

The Wall Street Journal also responds to the charge that it is the most liberal major newspaper in America.
The Wall Street Journal's news coverage is relentlessly neutral. Of that, we are confident.

By contrast, the research technique used in this study hardly inspires confidence. In fact, it is logically suspect and simply baffling in some of its details.

First, its measure of media bias consists entirely of counting the number of mentions of, or quotes from, various think tanks that the researchers determine to be "liberal" or Â?conservative." By this logic, a mention of Al Qaeda in a story suggests the newspaper endorses its views, which is obviously not the case. And if a think tank is explicitly labeled Â?liberalÂ? or Â?conservativeÂ? within a story to provide context to readers, that example doesnÂ?t count at all. The researchers simply threw out such mentions.
It then finds more fundamentally unsound practices in the study.

As I had previously noted using the study's own methodology the authors are far more conservatively biased than any of the media they accuse of bias.

I had also reported on this silly study months ago. - somewhere in my archives.

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