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Perceptions of Media Bias in Political Context

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Table of contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Introduction
  3. Delimitation
    Reflection on the Research Problem
  4. Literature Review


Current media environment of Canada is heavily based on political topics, which is the main source for political parties to share their activities, opinions, and propaganda to their citizens. Nowadays topic of debate in media culture is the biased news coverage of political information. Ideological perception of bias makes challenging for scholarly researchers to outline the cases and factors of bias in media. Hence, it is vital to understand how students of the University of Toronto Scarborough perceive political news, analyze it and create their opinion. I will use experimental design as a research method tool to find out how same news from different media outlets has an effect on students.


News media is the driving information source of the society. It creates a stage for politicians to share their thoughts, set their agendas, and publicly serve information for their future voters. Till nowadays broadcasting stays in leading positions as one of the main sources of information for Canadians. According to, 76% of Canadians watch television. Having an important role in society, media bias debate creates questions such as whether media bias exists? Does media bias influence people’s opinion and decision making? Etc. Yet a lot of journalist, scholars, ideologists, and politicians tried to answer this kind of questions, there is a gap in this topic how people perceive information. Experimental design method will be used as a research method for my interviews, which includes using different news articles to test perception of individuals. Special attention will be granted to the choice of articles. I would say this is the most important of the research process, in order not to have troubles with the desired conclusion.


The delimitation of this research is that I am not going to conduct research whether research participants think that news from different outlets are biased or not. This debate has been analyzed by a lot of research. Hence, I am more interested in how people perceive news.

I am going to narrow down to 4 different TV outlets (CTV, CBC, GLOBAL, and CITY). They are owned by different companies and one of them is public, which means it’s owned by the government. The research will be conducted between UTSC students giving a chance to go deeply into qualitative research methods. Moreover, they are just starting to get into politics and have the right to vote. Hence, it will give me the opportunity to analyze how they develop their understandings towards news.

Reflection on the Research Problem

Political decisions are vital for country’s development and in democratic reality, people have to have the knowledge to give their vote to the right person. This research will help the community to understand what kind of challenges they face while analyzing news they consume every day. Different type of limitations can follow this research. As the age of participants is mainly from 18 to 22, it may create problems for them to give fairly evaluated answers to my questions. Another limitation may occur which is the results of this research may not show the face of larger population based on the education, living conditions and family background.

Literature Review

Media bias is a controversial topic and for answering to my research questions we need to understand whether it exists or not. But first, we need to define what is media bias. According to Groseclose and Milyo defined the term “media bias” in their paper (2005) where they analyzed it. “Before proceeding, it is useful to clarify our definition of bias. Most important, the definition has nothing to do with the honesty or accuracy of the news outlet. Instead, our notion is more like a taste or preference”. Book published by them “A Measure of Media Bias” tried objectively quantify bias in media. Unfortunately, it’s mainly based on U.S media, however, we can state that U.S’s and Canada’s media environment are similar.

Usually public tends to favors to the news outlets who continuously cover consistent news content with the public who are already pre convinced with beliefs. A precise explanation of this event is outlined by Mullainathan and Shleifer (2003). Between news organizations and the public, there is a symbolic communication, which means that this outlet has their loyal audience which is fed by their content, which leads to revenues from advertisers. Moreover, this audience doesn’t question the content by this television companies.

Another addition to this bias debate has been by Eveland and Shah in 2003. The perception of bias in news has to lead to enormous distrust to mainstream media, especially to news outlets. However, they have found that it is based on individual’s perception of bias based on their ideological relationship in political consideration, favoritism to political side and the perception of bias in the media environment.

These researchers are a fundamental base for my research, they give an initial idea how to the research will process and what kind of questions are good enough to achieve the desired result. The scholarly articles used in this research are more based on the psychological understandings of an individual, rather than discussing the existence of media bias.

However, as past technological advancements entered people lives, a lot has changed among youngsters, who are my main research participants. Mostly, the number of news outlets increased instantly, giving the audience more choice and variety of opinions in selecting the source of information. A research was conducted to answer the question whether it’s a good thing that there are a lot of choices for people in terms of news companies. Scholar Scott (2005) outlined in his research that in reality there is no difference as media conglomeration takes over all that companies keeping media environment to the previous owners.

Different outcomes can be expected from various ways of making a research about political bias in media environment. For example, if I tried to do a research to find out about existence of media bias, students would have differently approached to this questions. Another way of completing study is to diversify sources of information. Understanding the differences between television, radio and internet audiences and how they analyze information.

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