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Moderate Voices Muted in Political News
06 September 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, a SAGE journal and 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 authors 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.