Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Biased Audiences: I generally don't worry about the supposed biases of news outlets. Liberals believe Fox News is a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. Conservatives believe all other major news outlets are liberal. I've argued that it depends on each person's point of view.

But I've found something interesting with the online instapolls news outlets have been putting on their websites. Everyone knows that these "polls" are nowhere near scientific and, therefore, don't portray an accurate representation of the public's opinion. But I find that they do offer fascinating revelations about a news outlet's audience.

For example, Fox News today had this online poll, "Do you agree with President Bush that recent violence in Iraq is a response to U.S. progress in the country?"
79 percent of respondents answered "Yes, I think he's right"
16 percent said "No, I disagree"
5 percent said "I'm not sure"

On CNN, the online poll inquired, "Who is most responsible for terror attacks in Iraq?"
47 percent answered "Saddam Hussein supporters"
53 percent responded with "Foreign Fighters"

On Al Jazeera's English website, the online poll asked, "Will anti-Iraq occupation sentiment in the US increase as occupation gets more costly?"
84 percent of respondents said "Yes"
12 percent said "No"
4 percent said "Unsure"

From the results, a vast majority of respondents to the Fox News poll bought Bush's line that the attacks are acts of desperation because the U.S. is doing so well. That seems to show that Fox's audience is mostly conservative.

CNN's poll is a little tougher to read, partly because the results are so close. But I'd say conservatives are more likely to believe that Saddam is still running the guerilla war while liberals would argue that the entire world is moving into Iraq to kill our troops. Even though the audience looks to be evenly divided, the numbers indicate that a few more liberals get their news from CNN than conservatives do.

Al Jazeera is a Middle Eastern news agency, but its English website probably attracts mostly internationals who live outside the region while locals go to the Arabic-language site. Still, it looks like its audience is not happy about the U.S. invasion of Iraq and expects the American public to turn against the idea. That sounds like the liberal view.

So there you have it. What does it mean? Absolutely nothing. But while every news outlet claims to be unbiased, fair and balanced, etc., it looks like their audiences have already made up their own minds about which news outlet they prefer.


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