For anyone who follows the news closely, the following is not going to be a surprise. According to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, a look at nearly 500 stories about same-sex marriage showed that positive coverage in the media outweighed negative coverage by a nearly five to one margin. They do note that this was largely due to coverage of polling showing a shift in American’s attitudes towards same-sex marriage.
The stories that the Pew Center looked over were largely from the time when the US Supreme Court was busy hearing arguments regarding same-sex marriage. The Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments about the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8.
However, the Pew Center also noted that there was also a certain amount of discipline and visibility on the part of marriage equality supporters, and that this lead to a larger number of positive statements about same-sex marriage.
Amy Mitchell, the acting director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, stated “Certainly it is evident in these findings the degree to which supporters of same-sex marriage were largely successful in getting their message out in a clear way, a consistent way, across a wide swath of the news media.”
Supporters consistently framed the issue as one of civil rights, the Pew Center noted; however, opponents applied a scattershot approach that saw them pose several different arguments including ‘homosexuality is a sin; same-sex marriage hurts families and society; civil unions are good enough, and the government should not impose a new definition of marriage.’
The findings were consistent across the different media platforms. According to the Pew Center, “43 percent of newspaper stories showed at least a 2-to-1 margin of pro views to con, 8 percent were dominated by opponents and 48 percent were largely neutral, Pew said. The proportions of supporter-opponent content in stories for all three cable news networks were similar.”
Apparently this even infected FOX News which saw 29% of the stories dominated by same-sex marriage supporters while only 8% were dominated by opponents. Somehow, 63% ended up balanced.