In our previous post we showed some results about the reputation impact of News of the World scandal in News Corporation media reputation.
Now we analyze how main newspapers in the United States are covering the scandal.
News of the World phone hacking scandal has had up to now direct consequences for Rupert Murdoch’s media group in Britain: the Chairman has decided to close the 168 year old British newspaper; two people have been arrested in England: Andy Coulson, former Director of NoW, and Neil Wallis, NoW executive editor; News Corp renounced to withdraw the bid for controlling British BSkyB cable broadcaster and, finally, Rebekah Brooks’ resignation.
All these events could be viewed merely as distant obververs by US journalists and readers. But News Corporation even if created in Australia is now based in the United States and listed in Nasdaq. News Corporation controls many reference media assets in the US, among them:
- The Wall Street Journal
- Dow Jones
- Fox News
- New York Post
- 20th Centruty Fox
- National Geographic
It is thus clear that News Corp scandal can be followed as an issue with direct implications in the United States. It is natural to question wether the journalistic misbehaviour (and probably delictive) inside News of the World was a closed-British practice or rather are means accepted or permitted in other news providers inside News Corporation. For instance, New York Post shares a similar sensationalistic profile with News of the World.
We provide in this post some insights about how newspapers in the United States are following the scandal and to which extent this follows a naive and random path or reflects local partisan or commercial interests.
First table shows the results concerning top 100 US newspapers by circulation. We have included only those providing a relevant number of articles about the scandal.
For each newspaper we show
(1), Together/NoW: the share of news mentioning News of the World and News Corp in the same article, against total number of articles published about News of the World.
(2), Together/News Corp: the share of news mentioning News of the World and News Corp in the same article, against total number of articles published about News Corporation.
We are checking with (1) to which extent each newspaper refers to the media group owner (News Corporation) when they publish an article about News of the World scandal, as this is an open decision by the journalist. Our understanding is that if a newspaper establishes the relationship between NoW and N Corp in a higher degree than average, this would reflect in some cases an unfriendly attitude against News Corp and its american newspapers.
The average value for measure (1) is 70%.
Measure (2) follows a similar dymanics: if News Corp is in the news in a newspaper only in relation with News of the World scandal and not for other unrelated issues (value near to 100), this would also reflect a negative position towards News Corp interests.
The average value for measure (2) is 55%.
The reader can check the individual results for each newspaper in the figure.
Democrat Vs Republican Oriented US Newspapers Media Coverage
Can we gather some additional information from the results shown in the table above?
Our proposal is to regroup the results by types of newspapers. We are not experts in US newspapers and this is not an aim that we are looking for. Expert readers can surely find relevant results based in their own knowledge about the nature of each newspaper.
We propose a cluster of US newspapers based in empirical results obtained in one of our precedent researches.
We implemented a systematic analysis of US media coverage of 2008 US Presidential elections. Some of our results are presented in a web site from MRI Universidad de Navarra: The Politics and Media Value Project.
One of the findings that we presented is a partisan classification so newspapers based on the quantity of news published about the Republican and Democrat precandidates. We present below the results.
We use these empirical results to create two groups of newspapers: Democrat oriented and Republican oriented. We include in the list those with a partisan bias higher than 2 points. We do not pretend with this clustering based in factual data to provide an undisputed classification of newspapers ideology. Please consider it just as an analysis tool helping us to address the issue that we are considering here.
First figure shows quantitative information about the relative presence of articles about News of the World in each group of newspapers, and its evolution since July 13 2011.
According to our data, there is no clear different behavior in this point between both kind of newspapers. Scandal related news increase in coverage, but the degree of meda attention is roughly equal in both groups (a value of 0.56-0.58).
Next figure shows the same result, but applied to all news about News Corporation.
We find here the first separated behavior linked to newspaper ideology. At initial stages (July 13) the level of media attention is quite similar in both groups, around 0.45. Already at that moment, Democrat Oriented newspapers deserved more media attention to the media group, even is it is considered to represent conservative approaches, and might then in normal times receive more media attention by Republican Oriented newspapers.
In the following days, when the scandal start to appear as a potential local US scandal affecting News Corp interests in the United States, we observe that Democrat Oriented journals refer much more than Republican Oriented newspapers to News Corporation. Right now, the relative presence of news about News Corp reaches a value 0.72 in Democrat Oriented newspapers, while it reachs a value 0.59 for Republican Oriented newspapers.
The next piece of analysis inquires about the share of news about News of the World than explicitly describe it as an scandal and that mention the phone hacking practice.
We find interesting and intriguind results here. Against intutition, Republican Oriented newspapers relate to the NoW case as an scandal in a similar and even higher proportion than Democrat Oriented newspapers. A similar result is obtained when analysing ther references to phone hacking, reaching even almost the 100% level.
This result indicates that when covering the News of the World issue, it receives non partisan treatment: both sides show it clearly as it is, as an scandal.
This means that if we want to identify ideology driven trends in covering the NoW scandal by US newspapers, we need to look for non direct and more subtle measures.
A new check is to measure to which extent US newspapers refer to elements of NoW scandal with a higher controversial profile. As we have found out in the precedent post, one of the issues that has produced a public opinion reaction and a very negative media treatment is the phone hacking linked to girl Milly Dowler, kidnapped and assassinated.
Our results show that, against our odds, Republican Oriented US newspapers mention this outraging case in a higher relative extent than Democrat ones. Republican Oriented newspapers mention Milly’s case in 37% articles about News of the World, while Democrat Oriented use the case only in 21% of all articles about the scandal.
We have again a result in line with the precedent ones. There is no partisan use of the News of the World scandal when presenting it to the readers. All newspapers present it clearly as an scandal and do not hide the worst elements of it, whatever their ideological position. No thraces of partisan media bias yet.
After this series of figures linked to the basic analysis of how the scandal is presented, we explore new options.
The idea that we propose now consists in measuring the ratio of news where both News of the World scandal and News Corp appear together in a news article, against total articles about News of the World or about News Corp.
This is simply to sum up the values presented in our first table in this post, according to the regrouping that we have proposed.
Here we find a clear different trend between Democrat and Republican Oriented journals. Democrat Oriented journals tend to state that News of the World newspaper is part of News Corporation media group in a substantially wider extent (74% of all cases) than Republican Oriented newspapers (just in 47% of all cases).
A similar divergent trend for the ratio (NoW+NCorp)/NCorp, being higher for Democrat Oriented newspapers. This result means that Democrat Oriented newspapers provide coverage to News Corp in 57% in relation with the scandal, and only 43% refer to issues not related with News of the World scandal. The share decreases to 46% in Republican Oriented newspapers.
The gap in this field for Democrat and Republican Oriented journals is to wideto consider that is a pure matter of randomness. To our understanding, this result underscores the existence of a partisan use of the News of the World reputation crisis pursuing local interests. This is not to say that this different behavior corresponds to a conscious design by each camp. It is in fact extremely difficult to estimate the other camp tactics and publishing decisions. Only a macro analysis like ours allow to identify this strategy. This may be an unconscious practice by both parties, but it clearly denotes that the Britain born reputation crisis is viewed by both Democrat and Republican Oriented American newspapers an issue with national implications.
to be continued)