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Norwegian media loves Obama September 20, 2008

Posted by Sverre in : US Presidential election, World politics , trackback

With an estimated 23.000 eligible American voters, it isn’t likely the American presidential election will be decided in Norway. Still, there is a great interest in it. USA’s decisions, especially with regards to the economy and foreign policy affect the entire world. This year I’ve started my own little informal and quasi-scientific research project to see how Norwegian media covers the American election.

My hypothesis is that Norwegian media would favor any Democratic candidate very strongly over his or her Republican counterpart. I assume this to be a representation of the general opinion of the Norwegian public. I further assume that in this election, this favoritism will benefit Barack Obama greatly.

Obama McCain
# of articles 96 50
Bias points 28 4
Data extracted on: 20. september 2008

As the table above shows, the data so far supports this hypothesis quite clearly. With about 130 articles entered, the Obama campaign appears to have had about twice the coverage the McCain campaign has as counted in the number of articles. Furthermore, the amount of of positive coverage outweighs the negative coverage for both candidates, but much more so for Obama than McCain.

The research method is quite simple. I read the online edition of three different Norwegian newspapers frequently. Every time I come across an article on the American election in one of these newspapers, I enter it into a database marking whether the article gives a positive, balanced or negative presentation of each candidate and his policies. I then count the number of articles covering each candidate (they quite frequently overlap)

These three newspapers, Aftenposten, Adresseavisen and Dagsavisen represent both the left and right wing on the political scale, are published in two different cities and have a varying mix of local, regional, national and international news. All three are among the less tabloid Norwegian newspapers.

I will most likely not pick up every article on this topic from the newspapers in question. I do however assume that systematical differences in which articles I notice are created mostly from the different priority these articles get in the corresponding newspaper. I consider such differences of priority to be part of the editorial profile of the publication in question, and thus not a source of error to the research.

As of now, there is also a small gap in the coverage between September 5th and 18th, that I will remedy over the next few days. When this is done, I will publish the entire database table for anyone to examine the data on their own.

Expect more to follow on this topic when I have more time available.

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