Moderate voices muted in political news

Sep 06, 2012

While commentators and scholars argue that political groups have become more polarized in the US, a new study finds that moderate political groups are not as well covered in newspaper articles as more radical right and left-wing groups. This study is found in a recent article from Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, an official journal of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

"Extremes are more intuitively novel, entertaining, and colorful, representing another common news value," wrote the of the study, Michael McCluskey and Young Mie Kim. "Moderate voices may be more difficult to portray as exciting than extreme voices."

McCluskey and Kim examined 208 political advocacy groups that represented a range of political ideologies as they were represented across 118 newspapers. They found that groups that expressed more polarized opinions on political issues were mentioned in larger newspapers, appeared earlier in articles, and were mentioned in more paragraphs.

The authors wrote, "More people had the opportunity to note those groups, fueling perceptions of those groups as important or legitimate."

The authors also pointed out that moderate views are less easy to define than more radical opinions and that discussing extreme views make it easier to explain the issue at hand.

Explore further: Stereotypes lower math performance in women, but effects go unrecognized

More information: "Moderatism or Polarization? Representation of Advocacy Groups' Ideology in Newspapers" Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

National differences in reporting of climate scepticism

Nov 10, 2011

An Oxford University study of climate change coverage in six countries suggests that newspapers in the UK and the US have given far more column space to the voices of climate sceptics than the press in Brazil, ...

Recommended for you

Researcher focuses on US suburban housing equity

15 hours ago

Since the 1968 Fair Housing act was passed, have housing opportunities for people of color improved? Did the Great Recession beginning in 2007 stop or slow progress toward better housing for people of color?

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Sep 08, 2012
There is nothing "exciting" about extreme voices, fundamentalists and extremists. We are not heard and we are tried of these political bigots and Machiavelic psychoes. 300 years, heads were chopped for less then this. We're right back in feudalistic times, swimming upstream while Asia has fully awaken and distancing us.
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 08, 2012
How much evil are 'moderates' willing to compromise?

"The authors also pointed out that moderate views are less easy to define "

Probably because the 'moderates' can't decide what the they really stand for, or are afraid to reveal what they really stand for.

Major 'liberal' churches are discovering their FORMER members don't want them to be too moderate.
1 / 5 (2) Sep 08, 2012
It's just tabloid journalism, common for PhysOrg or even rigorous publications - nobody is interested about average opinions and vague findings. Examples of tabloism1, 2, 3.
3 / 5 (2) Sep 09, 2012
Was it the 'moderate' media the chose to ignore this?

"Imagine an American man so devout in his Communist beliefs, that during the Cold War the FBI placed him on its security index – meaning that if an armed conflict were to have erupted between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, Federal authorities would have looked to him as a prime suspect for treason.

Now imagine that man mentored the leader of the free world."

Calls for 'moderation' always seem to come from those who want to attack the liberty of individuals: socialists, Islamists, communists,....

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.