Thursday, November 19, 2009

How not to do a study

The other day on Digg, I came across an article on Forbes that suggested that Fox News' claim of being "Fair and Balanced" may actually be correct. It doesn't take John Stewart to figure out they're not, so I knew something had to be fishy about the story.

The idea behind the article is that Fox features a similar percentage of negative coverage of Obama as other media outlets have in the past for other presidents (about 65% negative). Meanwhile, the other "liberal" news stations have a disproportionately high amount of positive coverage for Obama when compared to coverage of earlier presidents.

The fault lies in that it's a overly simplistic system. The coverage is lumped into either "positive" or "negative". Stations can't lose extra points of coverage that gos beyond negative into racist rants, hate-filled diatribes, or tirades full of complete bullshit like their continued coverage of the Birther movement or their fanaticism with the supposed Death Panels.

It's not thoughtful reflection of news that leads to negative coverage that make Fox the target of such criticism. It's the fact that their "negative" isn't even reality based. Furthermore, Fox uses material from its "Opinion Commentators" to pass off as "News". This study doesn't even begin to address that because of its shoe-horning into ill defined categories. When these other important criteria for judging the news worthiness of the station is added, it becomes clear Fox doesn't even belong on the scale.

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