A book chapter is about to come out in a collection entitled Media Diversity and Localism. When I get proofs, I generally read them out loud, to catch any errors. This time, I recorded it, and if you have a spare half hour, it would make a good bedtime story. Here’s the gist:
There is much hand-wringing–and rightfully so–over the fact that a small number of companies own much of the news media we see. So, does that result in a shrinking set of perspectives. I looked at coverage of the presidential elections of 1992, 1996, and 2000 to see whether and to what degree the perspectives of this coverage changed across eight newspapers.
The results were a bit complicated. Generally speaking, the largest, most “national” of these papers started out pretty similar and grew more similar over the period. The more local (but still very large circulation) newspapers remained a bit different. This was excluding, naturally, wire stories. In other words, if you want a diversity of news, it’s not enough to read the New York Times and Washington Post–you should read your local paper as well. OK, that may not be exactly mind-blowing news, but it was an interesting project.
What made it interesting: the way I figured this out was to compare the word frequency in several thousand articles. I don’t think anyone has taken a similar approach. So, that was kind of cool.
I don’t think I’m allowed to republish the article here (same with upcoming book chapters), but I don’t think anyone will object to the readthrough. So, if you are interested, here’s the mp3.