The Conservative Media - Part 2
If you like going to the source, I recommend downloading the spreadsheet (link at the site) with the nuts and bolts of their analysis.
(Aside: If you'd prefer to read a really dull, myopic viewpoint of the election campaign as it unfolded, I recommend reading the discussion from their 'roundtable' of pundits.)
During the campaign there were 2,113 articles written about the election in the 5 English newspapers studied (The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Sun).
Of those 2113, 1,711 (81%) mentioned the Liberal party. Out of those 1,711, there were 34 (2%) with positive mentions of the Liberal party and 342 (20%) with negative mentions of the Liberals, giving a 10 to 1 ratio of negative mentions to positive.
Meanwhile, for the Conservative Party, the figures were 1592 (75%) total articles, including 82 (5%) positive mentions and 159 (10%) negative mentions, for a roughly 2:1 ratio of negative to positive.
The NDP garnered (4%) positive mentions and 7% negative mentions, while the Bloc had the most favourable(!) coverage of any party from the English language papers at 4% positive, 5% negative (although they were only mentioned in 15% of stories).
Of course there may be any number of explanations for these results including the media rooting for the underdog, the media following poll shifts, a general unwillingness to praise the governing party, poorly/well run campaigns and so on. Still, it seems hard to say that media bias was anything but harmful to the Liberals.
It's interesting to look at the numbers by newspaper:
The Calgary Herald mentioned the Liberals in 76% of its election articles, with 0%(!) containing positive mentions, and 23% containing negative mentions (note: they did have one article with a positive mention, but it still rounded down to 0%).
Meanwhile they mentioned the Conservatives in 77% of their articles, of which 8% had positive mentions and 4% had negative mentions.
Globe and Mail: Mentioned Liberals (85%), positive 1%, negative 17%
Mentioned Conservatives (75%), positive 2%, negative 11%
National Post: Mentioned Liberals (81%), positive 1%, negative 35%(!)
Mentioned Conservatives (69%), positive 13%, negative 4%
Toronto Star: Mentioned Liberals (85%), positive 4%, negative 15%
Mentioned Conservatives (79%), positive 2%, negative 19%
Vancouver Sun: Mentioned Liberals (77%), positive 1%, negative 15%
Mentioned Conservatives (76%), positive 4%, negative 10%
Together, the Herald, Post, Sun and Globe combined to write 1305 articles about the Liberals with a grand total of 11 including positive mentions. Meanwhile the Post and Herald alone combined for 55 articles with positive mentions of the Conservatives.
So what does it all mean? - well, not a whole lot without having more elections to study, but next time you hear someone say how the media were out to get the Conservatives you may want to have a little chuckle. Also, you can see just how far out in bias land the Herald and the Post are while the Globe and Sun were closer to the Centre (although still anti-Liberal). Of all the papers, the Star was the closest to having equally negative coverage for both the Liberals and Conservatives, but it did have a slight pro-Liberal lean (vs. the Conservatives).
There's lots more info in the spreadsheet such as a breakdown by issue ('Accountability' got by far the most press, followed by Health Care, Social Issues, Tax Cuts and finally International Issues), a breakdown by type of coverage (52% horserace, 43% issues, 4% other - how sad is that?) and a daily tracking of all the articles (not to mention the raw data itself in case you feel like doing your own analysis.)
If only there were more of this kind of data available...