Media Bias Study

If you’ve ever tuned into the 10 o’clock news or read a morning paper, chances are you’ve seen stories of “Pit Bulls” doing unimaginable things. These reports are usually accompanied with a photo of a ferocious looking “Pit Bull” dog, and words such as “mauling” are used to describe the occurrence. But is there a media bias against “Pit Bull” dogs? And, if another type of dog is in the news for an equal, or sometimes worse, behavior, is the same attention being given to that story? The following study follows two dog related incidents that were reported on nearly 24 hours apart from each other:

On Monday, August 20, 2012 in Palm Springs, California, a stray kitten was chased by four dogs reported as Pit Bull terriers, and hid into the front bumper of a parked minivan. The four dogs began clawing and biting at the bumper (see photo below) in an attempt to get the kitten. The kitten was never harmed, and later found by the owner of the dogs and minivan several miles down the road. Is this incident worthy of a news story?

Apparently so…But not just one. Many.

First reported by a local Palm Springs media outlet, MyDesert.com, on August 21st, this story ran NATIONALLY in over 100 newspaper and news station websites across the United States, including major networks like Fox, NBC, ABC and CBS! Nobody was hurt, not even the tiny homeless kitten, who is now up for adoption and will undoubtedly get a new home because of this national headline. In most of the stories, many relevant details were omitted. The originating article provided the most about the incident. At some point during the evening/early morning, a stray kitten ventured on the property where the dogs were left outside. The kitten escaped and ran into a hollow area in the minivan’s bumper parked on the owner’s property. It was his minivan, and his dogs. The dogs clawed and bit at the plastic bumper in an unsuccessful attempt to capture the kitten (Note: prey drive is not uncommon for dogs in general). The photo of the minivan that ran in virtually every report, is what the vehicle looked like after the kitten was rescued. It is unknown if the dogs were responsible for all the damage, or if some of the damage was done during the rescue efforts “40 minute process that involved removing the bumper.”

The following day (August 21, 2012), a reported Jack Russell Terrier-Dalmatian mix bites a 2 year old girl on the face, requiring her to get 12 total stitches (10 on the bridge of her nose, and 2 inside her mouth above her upper gum), after attempting to kiss the dog. Only one media outlet gave this incident any attention, WHIO (local to the story).

No images of snarling JRT mixes, or descriptive words to captivate an audience were used to enhance the seriousness of this case. Not much was said at all about an attack by a non-Pit Bull that left a young girl with facial wounds. But a lesser incident involving Pit Bulls garnered national exposure. So, is there a media bias when reporting on Pit Bull incidents? You be the judge.

In the end, it’s not about breed, or breed identification, and it never should be part of the inquiry. Dogs are a reflection of their owners, and we can all prevent dog bites by training, socializing, and properly managing our dogs. It is our duty as responsible dog owners to understand our dogs, regardless of breed or type, because it’s unfortunate that any dog be in the news in a negative light, when they do so much for us in our everyday life.

Contributors:

Jeff Theman of “Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent” and Gemma Zanowski of Tough Love Pit Bull Rescue

Reference Links:

CBS; News

ABC; News

NBC Sports; News

Yahoo!; News/Yahoo!

Huffington Post; News

ABC 33/40; Birmingham, Alabama

Anchorage Daily News; Anchorage, Alaska

KTAR; Phoenix, Arizona

Fox 10/KSAZ; Phoenix, Arizona

CBS 5/KPHO; Phoenix, Arizona

KOLD/KSMB; Tucson, Arizona

CBS 12/KHSL; Chico, California

Fox 26/KMPH; Fresno, California

Union; Grass Valley, California

NBC 4; Los Angeles, California

Fox/KTTV; Los Angeles, California

L.A. Times; Los Angeles, California

Merced Sun-Star; Merced, California

Modesto Bee; Modesto, California

MyDesert.com; Palm Springs, California (*originating story)

News 10/Sac & Co; Sacramento, California

Californian; Salinas, California

CBS 8/KFMB; San Diego, California

Tribune; San Diego, California

Union-Tribune; San Diego, California

San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco, California

Mercury News; San Jose, California

Ventura County Star; Ventura County, California

Contra Costa Times; Walnut Creek, California

WFSB; Hartford, Connecticut

Fox 8/WVUE; New Orleans, Louisiana

Gainesville Sun; Gainesville, Florida

Miami Herald; Miami, Florida

ABC 7/WZVN; Fort Myers/Naples/Port Charlotte, Florida

News 13; Orlando, Florida

CBS Atlanta/WGCL; Atlanta, Georgia

Telegraph; Alton, Illinois

Fox 32/WFLD; Chicago, Illinois

NBC 25; East Peoria, Illinois

NBC 13/WREX; Rockford, Illinois

NBC 6/KWQC; Davenport, Iowa

NBC 4/KTIV; Sioux City, Iowa

Fox 25/WFXT; Boston Massachusetts

Fox 32; Cadillac, Michigan

Detroit Free Press; Detroit, Michigan

Argus-Press; Owosso, Michigan

CBS 5/WNEM; Saginaw, Michigan

Northland’s Newscenter; Duluth, Minnesota

Pioneer Press; St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota

Post-Dispatch; St. Louis, Missouri

Montana Standard; Butte, Montana

ABC 8/KLKN; Lincoln, Nebraska

CBS 8/KLAS; Las Vegas, Nevada

Fox 5/KVVU; Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas Sun; Las Vegas, Nevada

CBS 2/KTVN; Reno, Nevada

NBC 4/KRNV; Reno, Nevada

KRQE; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Times Union; Albany, New York

WKBW; Buffalo, New York

New York Daily News; New York, New York

NBC 10/WHEC; Rochester, New York

Charlotte Observer; Charlotte, North Carolina

CBS 3/WBTV; Charlotte, North Carolina

Dispatch; Lexington, North Carolina

News Observer; Raleigh, North Carolina

NBC 6/WECT; Wilmington, North Carolina

ABC 13; Toledo, Ohio

Vindicator; Youngstown, Ohio

KOTV; Tulsa, Oklahoma

Fox 12/KPTV; Beaverton, Oregon

Oregonian; Portland, Oregon

Erie Times News; Erie, Pennsylvania

Evening Sun; Hanover, Pennsylvania

ABC 27/WHTM; Harrisburg/York/Lancaster/Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Fox 29; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Republican Herald; Pottsville, Pennsylvania

Reading Eagle; Reading, Pennsylvania

WLTX; Columbia, South Carolina

Herald; Rock Hill, South Carolina

WMBF; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

NBC 3/WRCB; Chattanooga, Tennessee

ABC 2/WKRN; Nashville, Tennessee

Statesman; Austin, Texas

Fox 26/KRIV; Houston, Texas

NBC 11/KCBD; Lubbock, Texas

Fox 4/KDFW; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

San Antonio Express News; San Antonio, Texas

KXXV; Waco/Killeen/Temple, Texas

KLTV; Tyler, Texas

WCAX; Burlington, Vermont

NBC 10/ WAVY; Norfolk, Virginia

Seattle Times; Seattle, Washington

Seattle PI; Seattle, Washington

WBOY; Clarksburg, West Virginia

Fox 11/WLUK; Green Bay, Wisconsin

Fox 10/WALA; Mobile, Alabama/Pensacola, Florida

KTEN; Northern Texas/Southern Oklahoma

WGEM; Quincy, Illinois/Hannibal, Missouri/Keokuk, Iowa

Inquisitr; News Website

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7 thoughts on “Media Bias Study

  1. WOW! Just WOW! How on earth can these news outlets see an incident that involved prey drive, where no one or no living creature was injured, as more of a “news” story than a dog bitting the face of a child. Yes, there is a HUGE media bias against the American Pitbull Terrier breed and the entire “pit bull” type dog community. Personally, I own two APBTs who are both well trained Service Animals, one for my 5 year old Autistic son and the other for me, as I suffer from multiple disabilites that leave me unable to walk most days. These dogs are life SAVERS, ever single day! I would never look at these dogs and think “killer” just because of the way they look. I have personally been attacked by three different black Labrador Retrievers, one of which bit me in the face and caused some pretty serious damange. I am still a little uneasy around large black labs, but I would NEVER hold those attacks against the entire breed (as some people do to “pit bull” type dogs) becuase I know, as a dog trainer and photographer, that every dog is different and their behavior can be attributed to their training, owner, the way they are raised and the specific sitation that happens when a bit occurs. Every bite, no matter what anyone says, is in some way proved; just because someone didn’t see the lip licking, ears back, closed mouth or other behaviors of a nervous or fearful dog before a bite occurs, does not mean that there were not signs or some kind of provocation. I know, a tad off topic, but all in all, there is a HUGE media bias when it comes to “pit bull” type dogs. Whether it is someone claming that a dog is a “pit bull,” which really isn’t even an actual breed of dog; instead just a broad generalization of breeds that all have similar looks, when the dog is not actually a “pit bull” or “pit bull” type dog, it is one of the 23 breeds commonly mistaken for a “pit bull;” or a story that is run nation wide just becuase the “attack” or bite that happened was a “pit bull” type dog (or something that was described as a “pit bull” type dog), there is a very large bias.

  2. Pingback: Media Bias Study - Pitbulls : Go Pitbull Dog Forums

  3. Seems like the links to the news websites don’t work anymore. In my opinion, once this article came out they all decided to remove the story and avoid any scrutiny!

  4. It is about time to rescue the Pit Bull from the Hell created by people who “just don’t know what they’re doing” in their ugly practice of discrimination against the Pit Bull.

  5. I don’t think the media is concerned about pits, or any other dog, one way or another. they are only concerned about ratings. “labradoodle attacks man” doesn’t grab attention the way Pit-bull does. for a while one of our local news channels used a stock photo of a snarling pit bull for any dog attack stories, regardless of the breed. got so bad they even used it one for a story about a pit bull rescue group. no attacks involved, someone there was just so use to pit bull = snarling hell hound that they grabbed the stock photo without even knowing what the story was about. after enough backlash they stopped using the photo and it also led to them doing some positive stories about pit bull therapy dogs etc…
    I think we have to stop viewing the news outlets as the enemy and start looking at them as tools. they are going to report whatever they think will get the most views and attention. we have to be more vocal and call them on any BS story they post about pit bulls. when they see that we want truth and not sensationalism, they will start reporting it.

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