Fair and Balanced? The Newsmedia’s Recent Lopsided Coverage of Evolution Controversy

One pretty clear indicator of newsmedia bias is the amount of space news articles devote to each side of a public policy debate. Does each side of the debate get a similar number of words to describe and articulate their views? Or do reporters only provide one side of the debate space to articulate their position? If recent articles by major American newspapers are any indication, reporters writing about controversies over teaching evolution are engaging in seriously lopsided reporting, outquoting defenders of evolutionary theory by as much as 5 to 1. Moreover, many reporters appear to be censoring or refusing to report information that doesn’t fit their predetermined stereotypes. The following recent stories from The Washington Post, USA Today, and The San Francisco Chronicle provide good examples.
“Fresh Challenges in the Old Debate Over Evolution,” by Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post. (December 7, 2004, p. A14)
More than 50% of the Post article is devoted to comments and explanations by those who are defenders of evolutionary theory. Only 10% of the article is devoted to comments from those who favor greater critical analysis of the theory. In the process of only reporting one side of the debate, The Post simply censored any information that didn’t fit the newsmedia’s preconceived stereotypes on this issue.