Here in the Philippines, it’s been less than 24 hours since the groundbreaking presidential debates. For the first time in 24 years, candidates were required to attend a televised and public debate. And going through my Facebook feed this morning, I saw many varied opinions but also claims on media bias regarding the coverage.
To go beyond our Facebook Feed algorithm and confirmation bias, I did a small analysis of Rappler, ABS-CBN and GMA News‘ online coverage. I will look at the facts, the headlines and do my best to give an unbiased analysis of the coverage of all these portals.
My approach/method was (as of press time 12:30pm) a look at:
- The home page and articles being frontloaded
- The number of articles preceding the debate (within 24 hours), during and after (until the stated press time) – and who they are about
- The contents of the headlines (NOTE: in most situations not the contents of the article) and if there was any notable language of bias
- When applicable the number of videos posted through Facebook and their respective headlines
- Personal Analysis based on the above
The result in alphabetical order…
1. Home page:
- Based on what’s present there is a general article then a frontloaded article re: Roxas’ comment towards Poe. This could be a function of their layout. 5 candidates and only space for 2 articles. From a User Experience point of view, this could just be bad layouting.
2. Articles and Contents of Headlines
- I did a quick scrape of their Facebook timeline and here is what I found:
- An article that stated that their was no clear winner based on political analysis
- Based on number of articles with headlines containing their name released post debate (NOTE: some articles shared equal coverage as they were pitted against each other):
- Most Articles – Poe (5)
- Binay – 4
- Roxas – 3
- Miriam – 2
- Least Articles – Duterte (1)
- Among all of the above mentioned the headline contents were as follows:
- 2 Roxas “attacks” against other candidates
- Juxtaposed positions and platforms of Poe, Binay and Roxas
- 2 articles on the preparation of Poe and Binay
- Personal Issues of Duterte and Miriam
4. Videos – None (probably due to lock out)
5. Personal Analysis
- A personal analysis of the headlines has me believe that there is positive slant towards Roxas (especially in citing what he says about others) and a negative slant towards Duterte and Miriam. Though quotes are being shared, it seems the focus has a deliberate intent or narrative spin (this is considering the number of other quotes that could have been taken during the debate and the choice not to focus on the platforms of Duterte and Miriam) – the image of Duterte is not even from the debate (well all of the images are not from the debate) and is taken to serve the narrative of the headline.
- GMA manages to present all five candidates on their home page
- The release of posts of GMA News through Facebook has mostly been general posts including all candidates
- GMA managed to cover each candidate once BUT in some occasions posted twice in the case of Roxas.
3. Contents of Headlines
- Out of the 5 articles released the headlines point to the following:
- Binay addressing Political Dynasties (Defensive)
- Duterte on womanizing (Defensive)
- Poe on her inexperience (Defensive)
- Roxas wanting to give a comfortable life to Filipinos
- Santiago on her cancer (Defensive)
- They had a total of 31 videos on their Facebook account
- Of the 31, they presented all 5 closing statements
- A breakdown of the headline contents of those videos are as follows:
- Most Videos – Duterte and Miriam with 7
- Poe with 6
- Least Videos – Binay and Roxas with 5
5. Personal Analysis
- Though I personally believe they managed to generally give fair coverage, the facts show they gave more attention to candidates Duterte and Miriam in the videos. I also believe, in terms of the articles, there was a slight bias to Roxas. This is due to the fact there were double posts and that Roxas was the only one not quoted in defensive position in the headlines.
- I should also note that I believe more analysis needs to be done. Particulary because after reading one of their “general headline” articles, I found evidence of bias towards Roxas. In the article (below), you will notice they say Roxas set the tone. Which I believe is a biased assertion because he was last to speak during the opening statements.
- Rappler did not frontload individual posts but rather general articles
- In total Rappler published 23 articles citing the candidates by name.
- Of the 23, they posted a little under 10 in their Facebook feed.
- Some articles were “results” of the debate based on: Movement for Good Governance, Rappler Editors, Online Voters
3. Contents of the Headlines
- Of all published articles the distribution was as follows:
- Most Articles – Duterte (7 not including mentions because of the “results” articles)
- Santiago and Roxas – 5
- Poe – 4 (not including “results” articles)
- Least Articles – Binay (2)
- In terms articles about the preparation coverage was even (1 article each)
- Poe was declared the winner by their editors
- Roxas was declared the winner by Movement for Good Governance
- Within Rappler’s Facebook feed the distribution was as follows (not including “results” of the debate):
- Most Posts – Duterte (4 with double posting)
- Santiago and Poe – 3
- Roxas – 2 (single article posted twice)
- Least Posts – Binay (1)
- Summary – most of the articles seemed unbiased in terms of their language with the exception of articles about Grace Poe (will explain in analysis)
5. Personal Analysis
- Based on my opinion and analysis, there seems like there is no concrete stand on who Rappler supports – it seems like a mishmash of the different opinions of Rappler’s different writers and editors. BUT based on the facts there is a clear exposure bias in terms of the number of articles on Duterte.
- There is also a negative exposure bias and negative slant for Binay. Binay received the least amount of coverage in this debate. And out of the 2 articles about him, one is about Roxas’ statement about the “2 Makati’s” (Ayala’s Makati and Binay’s Makati)
- Also based on my analysis of the language of each of the 23 articles, there seems to be a negative slant towards Grace Poe in headlines. Despite the fact the editors declared her the winner, in 2/4 of the articles she is described as “evading the question” and the other is Roxas’ statement that “Presidency is not an OJT”.
Do you agree with my analysis? Do you have an analysis of TV5, Philstar or Inquirer? Post comments below (knowing that emotions run high when it comes to politics – let’s keep it civil).
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