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An Experimental Evaluation of Readers' Perceptions of Media Bias
Unformatted Document Text:  Media Bias - 16 Seventh (and last): Users are more likely to describe supporting quotations as biased than any other statements. This is not entirely surprising: Journalists use "good" quotations not only for their evidentiary value but also because they may be vivid and colorful, and so attract attention (Fedler, Bender, Davenport & Kostyu, 1997). But at the same time it appears that these quotations work more directly than other structural elements of a news report in creating perceptions of bias (and consequently inaccuracy) in readers who disagree with them. Ironically, this consequence is created by the words of the only people involved with the story who are not members of the media. It is beyond the scope of this study to explicate the nature of the relationship between quoted material and the perception of bias. It should be possible in future research to determine whether the basis of the relationship is the literal content of the material, its working, the attribution, or some other element of the statement. In closing, two limitations of this study should be noted. First, although we were able to replicate the Giner- Sorolla and Chaiken findings, the simple imputation of an attitude, such as being in favor of increased parking on campus, should ideally not be based on a demographic characteristic such as whether the person has a car at school. This is a source of unreliability which should attenuate the magnitude of the relationship between attitude and perception of bias in an opposing statement. Second, the participants in this study were college students, who are unfortunately notoriously low consumers of news media generally. Although they are legally adults, it does not necessarily follow that the cognitive mechanisms underlying their responses to media, particularly political media, are fully developed. The results of this study, and the other studies of perceived bias, outline the nature of the dilemma facing news media: to do their jobs ethically, journalists must represent all points of view, but presenting all points of view - giving genuinely balanced coverage - opens them to charges of bias from readers who focus only on those elements of the news report with which they disagree. It is beyond the scope of this study, or any single research report, to resolve this dilemma, although a little more objectivity on the part of critics would not be an inappropriate first step.

Authors: D'Alessio, Dave.
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Media Bias - 16
Seventh (and last): Users are more likely to describe supporting quotations as biased than any other
statements. This is not entirely surprising: Journalists use "good" quotations not only for their evidentiary value but also
because they may be vivid and colorful, and so attract attention (Fedler, Bender, Davenport & Kostyu, 1997).
But at the same time it appears that these quotations work more directly than other structural elements of a
news report in creating perceptions of bias (and consequently inaccuracy) in readers who disagree with them.
Ironically, this consequence is created by the words of the only people involved with the story who are not members of
the media.
It is beyond the scope of this study to explicate the nature of the relationship between quoted material and the
perception of bias. It should be possible in future research to determine whether the basis of the relationship is the
literal content of the material, its working, the attribution, or some other element of the statement.
In closing, two limitations of this study should be noted. First, although we were able to replicate the Giner-
Sorolla and Chaiken findings, the simple imputation of an attitude, such as being in favor of increased parking on
campus, should ideally not be based on a demographic characteristic such as whether the person has a car at school.
This is a source of unreliability which should attenuate the magnitude of the relationship between attitude and
perception of bias in an opposing statement.
Second, the participants in this study were college students, who are unfortunately notoriously low consumers
of news media generally. Although they are legally adults, it does not necessarily follow that the cognitive mechanisms
underlying their responses to media, particularly political media, are fully developed.
The results of this study, and the other studies of perceived bias, outline the nature of the dilemma facing news media:
to do their jobs ethically, journalists must represent all points of view, but presenting all points of view - giving
genuinely balanced coverage - opens them to charges of bias from readers who focus only on those elements of the
news report with which they disagree. It is beyond the scope of this study, or any single research report, to resolve this
dilemma, although a little more objectivity on the part of critics would not be an inappropriate first step.


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