Several recent major non-political news stories show that collective bias by the mainstream media goes beyond politics, seeping into issues of race, climate and terrorism, Axios media expert Sara Fischer writes:
- Why it matters: Collective media bias can dramatically skew coverage for the majority of the population, and can distort the truth by inflating or downplaying significant aspects of some news stories.
Examples of coverage bias that reaches beyond politics:
- Terrorism: A new study, detailed in The Guardian, found that terrorist attacks committed by Muslim extremists receive 357% more U.S. press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims.
- Hurricanes: A WashPost report found that in the same time period last September and October, Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico received only a third as many mentions in text as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on the mainland.
- Missing girls: The lack of media coverage of 10 missing minority girls in Washington, D.C. sparked outrage last year. Vox: “Even though children of color go missing more often than white children, they receive far less media coverage and public attention.”
- Even climate change, a hot digital topic, often struggles to get coverage on cable news. MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweeted last week that “almost without exception. every single time we’ve covered it’s been a palpable ratings killer. so the incentives are not great.”
Rodney Benson, chair of NYU’s Department of Media, said lack of newsroom diversity is a contributing factor:
“[T]he interests and concerns of less privileged groups (by class, religion, region, race, gender, or sexuality) are downplayed or ignored.”