PCA: How I Started

To determine whether or not FoxNews.com was “fair and balanced” or a “right wing propaganda machine” or something else entirely, I decided to go to the source. I chose to do the study in 2008 since we were in a presidential election cycle. The election campaigns had been fascinating, with a relative unknown overtaking the perceived party favorite in the Democratic primaries.

In order to get a reasonable sample, I chose a time period when there was no major event for either campaign. So, for instance, it was not a convention week.

I wanted to be representative of FoxNews.com without covering a lot of repeated headlines. In order to do that, I decided to look at four days’ worth of stories on FoxNews.com, but chose these out of two weeks, looking at every third day’s information. The reason for this was that in slow news weeks, which I had chosen, I did not expect the headlines to necessarily change every day. I did want a reasonable variety as well, so I went for multiple days. I ended up with a Tuesday, Friday, Monday, and Thursday to analyze.

Research Limitations
I chose to limit my investigation to three areas: the homepage, the politics front page, and the election coverage main page. These three areas would be the most likely to contain information about the two presidential candidates.

I began with the photographs of the two candidates. Photographs create reader identification and build a brand, so they are very important. I did not, however, have these rated, because I don’t think even political neophytes would have been unable to recognize the two men and that they might have been influenced by their personal perceptions, thus nullifying the ratings. Therefore, the analysis of the photos was limited to a simple count looking for an indication of bias through visual rhetoric.

On FoxNews.com, as for the Washington Post, pictures favored Obama over McCain. The exact count was 22 to 14.

This paper was presented at the national conference of Popular Culture today at 1:50.
Okay, a summary of this paper was given. I had ten minutes total to the end of our panel for both my paper and questions.

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