“Irish Times coverage designed to shift public opinion, rather than to inform it” Life Institute says
A review of every article published in the Irish Times concerning the issue of abortion over a three-year period has uncovered “systematic, persistent, and overwhelming bias” in support of legalised abortion, the Life Institute has revealed today.
Amongst the key findings from the forensic review of the period between January 2013 and December 2015 were:
- Of the 312 articles published by the paper that were determined to have a bias, 91% were found to have exhibited a pro legalised abortion bias (284 of 312 articles)/
- The bias was most evident in news reporting, with 98% of news reports taking a position supportive of legalised abortion(205 of 209 articles).
- 76.7% of opinion pieces for the period showed a bias towards legalised abortion with just over 23% taking a pro-life position. (79 against 24 articles)
- The Irish Times published two articles a week on average that were biased in favour of abortion – making them more a campaigner than a news agency.
Commenting on the findings, Life Institute spokeswoman Niamh Uí Bhriain said that the analysis “raises serious questions about the conduct of the press in general and the Irish Times in particular during a contentious and emotive debate.” She added
“The Irish people rely on the press to deliver them factual news and fair analysis of the news of the day. In particular, the Irish Times has, for many years, styled itself with some pride as ‘the newspaper of record’.
“This study clearly finds that rather than providing facts and fair analysis, the Irish Times has instead been providing its readers with a relentless stream of one-sided coverage of the abortion issue in a way that is clearly designed to shift, rather than to inform, public opinion.”
Ms. Uí Bhriain said that it was
“of particular concern that such overwhelming bias was shown in news reporting, with some 98% of articles which showed bias taking a position supportive of abortion. Bias in editorial or opinion writing clearly labelled as such is one thing – and the Irish Time’s 3-1 ratio in favour of legalised abortion in that category tells its own story. But consistent and partisan bias in news coverage of this issue is unacceptable.”
“The fact that the Irish Times has published two articles a week supporting abortion is evidence that the paper is more a campaigner than an impartial news agency.”
Irish Times articles that dealt explicitly and primarily with abortion between January 2013 and December 2015 were examined. In order to determine if an article was balanced or biased, each article was examined to see if they contained bias in 5 categories which are commonly used in assessing media bias: bias through selection or omission, bias through placement (which looks at how information is placed in the article), bias through headline, bias through tone, and bias through sources.
“This review shows categorically that the Irish Times is, on this important and sensitive issue, more of an abortion campaigner than a news agency,” said Ms. Uí Bhriain. “Non-biased reporting and diversity of opinion are essential if the Irish people are to engage in an honest and constructive national discussion on abortion.”
Editor’s note. This appeared at thelifeinstitute.net.