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Study Finds Google News Unbiased

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Brad Hill reports on a study which charts Google News and determines that it is unbiased.

Brad Hill’s report

Devising a study whereby articles were scraped from both Google News and Yahoo! News during the 2004 pre-election period, then analyzed sentence-by-sentence for their political slant, Ulken concluded that both news services are unbiased

This study could not be more flawed. Analyzing sentences for political stance is completely useless. Media bias does not normally come from outright biased articles, but from coverage.

You won’t see the New York Times saying “Bush is a moron and can’t do anything right”. What you will see is the Times putting an article on the cover detailing a Bush mistake, accompanied by one of those “wacky” photos of the President wearing a windbreaker and smirking, and then find on page 18 an article about Bush actually doing something. Or it’ll be Fox News doing the exact same thing, relegating Democrat victories to a 30-second blurb, most of which is devoted to a reaction quote from the White House.

Now, I’m not talking about Google News, but about the nature of media bias. During the election, the New York Times was found to be unbiased, because it had an equal number of pro-Bush and pro-Kerry articles. Yet you would have to be a fool to actually believe that sort of thing. Numbers of articles don’t matter, but placement makes a big difference. If Google News puts pro-conservative articles at the top of the page, and pro-liberal articles at the bottom, that would be bias.

Of course, Google News is constructed by an algorithm, so this is all just silly. Could we keep the media bias studies to mainstream media, which does such a terrible job reporting impartially?

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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