Yesterday the Pew Research Center released data on the news coverage of Typhoon Haiyan — a disaster that has killed at least 4,000 people — and the bungled Obamacare website roll-out. Comparing 20 hours of news coverage over four major U.S. channels, they found dramatic differences. The data below shows the hours and minutes spent on each topic at each channel (red = Obamacare, yellow = the typhoon).
First, the two partisan channels (Fox News and MSNBC) gave more time to Obamacare than the typhoon. On MSNBC, there was four times as much coverage of Obamacare. On Fox, there as a stunning 80 times as much coverage. Al Jazeera America and CNN spent significantly more time on the typhoon, likely reflecting their more global focus and less of an ideological mission.
The channels also differed in how much time they spent on facts/reporting versus opinion/commentary. Check it out:
While most all of us sometimes lazily refer to “the media” as if it’s a homogeneous thing, it’s important to remember that our perceptions of reality are strongly shaped by which media we consume.Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.