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ARTICLE: Ownership affects news coverage

Untitled by Skitterphoto, licence CC0 1.0

Independently owned news outlets present a wider variety of viewpoints than outlets that are under corporate ownership, write Deana Rohlinger and Jennifer Proffitt from the Florida State University. The authors analysed 1 182 news stories and opinion pieces relating to a particular legal struggle over terminating a patient’s life support in the US.

A wider variety of frames were present in stories published by independent outlets than their corporate-owned competitors. This is due to the corporate owners’ emphasis on profitability, the authors suggest. The danger of losing audience and advertisers repels these outlets from potentially controversial views.

The authors also investigated other potential sources of influence: the outlets’ political environment and geographical location. Although the effects are less pronounced than that of ownership, both location and political leaning affect how often or in what tone certain frames are presented. For example, news outlets in politically conservative states were much more likely to bring up medical viewpoints than outlets in politically moderate areas.

The article “How much does ownership matter?” was published by the journal Journalism. It is available online (abstract free).

Picture: Untitled by Skitterphoto, licence CC0 1.0.

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