Introduction

Abstract

Everyday, millions of articles are published in the newspapers. All Americans have a favorite newspaper, whether it is the New York Times, the CNN, the Fox News or any other journal that everyday publishes the latest breaking news. News coverage can be very influential, affecting one’s opinion through the information it provides or the emotional reaction it generates on the reader. Most of these newspapers claim having a neutral political opinion, but in general, a newspaper’s phrasing or language is specifically chosen with the intention of exposing a certain political outcome. Thus, the reader’s opinion is easily influenced by the content published in its favorite journal, although he’s not conscious of it. For example, CNN is known to emphasize the democratic opinion while the Fox News is known for its republican ideas. Analyzing the content of a newspaper is therefore a good way to verify its political orientation and the political ideas it wants to transmit. This data story presents a quotation based analysis of newspapers and their political bias.

Method

The ultimate goal of this analysis is to define the political orientation the newspapers. Indeed, is it possible to guess the opinion of a newspaper based only on its content? Popular newspapers should be neutral in the way they present the news, is it really the case? Otherwise, which political party do they support the most? This is adressed through several questions:

In the following, the Quotebank dataset regrouping quotations published in multiple newspapers between 2015 and 2020 is analysed. We focused our attention on 3 newspapers: the New York Times, CNN and Fox News. The determination of the political orientation of the journals is based on topics that are commonly addressed in the USA and on which Republicans and Democrats tend to argue a lot. We use dictionaries related to the topics to select the interesting quotations and sentiment analysis as indicator of one’s opinion. Statistical tests as well as dimensionality reduction techniques will help us interpret our data. Additionally, we look at the way the current topics are presented in the newspapers to help us assess their political preference.

Throughout the whole analysis, we compare the the results from the 3 different newspapers, keeping in mind their respective political bias assumptions.

Newspapers

NYT

The New York Times

The New York Times is an American daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership, also identified as the newspaper of record in the United States and one of the world’s greatest newspapers. While being ranked 3rd in the U.S., the NYT is also known for its slight to moderate liberal bias.

CNN

CNN

CNN is a multinational satellite television channel and website based in Atlanta, also described as a 24-hour global multi-platform network. It was the first all-news channel in the United States with an averaged number of 972,000 viewers in 2019. The network has often been criticized mostly by republicans because of its left-leaning bias in news coverage.

FOX

Fox News

The Fox News Channel, commonly known as Fox News, is an American multinational conservative cable news television channel and website based in New York City. In 2019, Fox News was the top-rated cable network, averaging 2.5 million viewers. Fox has been described as practicing biased reporting in favor of the republican party. However, the channel denies it.

First analyses

A first overview of our dataset allowed us to extract some interesting information.

Who are the main speakers?

Newspapers publish millions of quotations coming from millions of different personalities. However, some speakers may be published more than others. We call them recurrent speakers. In addition, the recurrent speakers can also be specific to each newspaper. Thus, the speaking time of a personality in a newspaper could be a hint to show how much the journal agrees with their ideas and would want to emphasize them. In other words, is the importance that a newspaper gives to a person by publishing their words already a clue as to the opinion of the newspaper?