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Political bias in the Irish media : a quantitative study of campaign coverage during the 2002 general election

Brandenburg, Heinz (2005) Political bias in the Irish media : a quantitative study of campaign coverage during the 2002 general election. Irish Political Studies, 20 (3). pp. 297-322. ISSN 0790-7184

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The aim of this study is to give some systematic insights into how Irish media tend to report an election campaign. The main focus will be on their attitudes toward and treatment of the competing parties and candidates. Content analysis data from television newscasts and campaign stories in four of the largest newspapers is used to investigate three different forms of media bias: coverage bias, agenda bias, and statement bias. We find that Irish media tend to grant disproportionate amounts of coverage to the government parties, Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats; the more prominent the coverage, the less proportionate it becomes. The extent to which media take the freedom to ‘distort’ party agendas in their reporting appears to depend on party size, campaign strategy and the acquired status and acceptance of a party amongst the political and media establishment. Most notable, however, is the predominantly negative attitude of all Irish print media towards political actors. Instead of a polarised partisan press, as for example in the UK, in Ireland we seem to be faced with a rather homogenous anti‐politics bias.