Including the broken headline, discussed previously within the discussion of multiple headlines for a single article, the highest rating on Obama-centric headlines came in as neutral, with 733 total ratings on 45 articles for an average score of 16.3. This worked out to almost double the positive score, which came in at 383 positive ratings for an average score of 8.5. So headings with Obamaâ€™s name redacted were positive one quarter of the time and neutral almost half the time. Obviously the other quarter plus was negative. Including the skewed headline, raters gave Obama headlines a negative rating 459 times, for an average score of 9.1. The Obama headlines were, therefore, half neutral, with the rest of the headlines being slightly more negative than positive.
If the broken headline is taken out of the count, the ratings change, though not a lot. The negative ratings for Obama become a total of 378 for an average score of 8.6. This is down from a score of 9.1. The positive ratings change to 382 for 44 article headlines, giving an average score of 8.7. That is up .2 from 8.5. And, taking out the altered headline, the neutral ratings total 734 for an average of 16.6 as opposed to 16.3 when the headline is included.
Looking only at the ratings average, headlines about Obama were viewed more positively than headlines about McCain, 8.5 to 7.1. Headlines about Obama were also viewed more neutrally, 16.3 to 14.4. Only in headlines perceived negatively did McCain beat Obama. McCainâ€™s negative rating average was 11.9 while Obamaâ€™s was 9.1.
In neither number nor positive bias do the name-redacted FoxNews.com headlines lean right.
This paper was presented at the national conference of Popular Culture on 8 April 2009.