Are U.S. newspapers biased against Palestinians? Analysis of 100,000 headlines in top dailies says, Yes – Mondoweiss
A study released last month by 416Labs, a Toronto-based consulting and research firm, supports the view that mainstream U.S. newspapers consistently portray Palestine in a more negative light than Israel, privilege Israeli sources, and omit key facts helpful to understanding the Israeli occupation, including those expressed by Palestinian sources.
The largest of its kind, the study is based on a sentiment and n-gram analysis of nearly a hundred thousand headlines in five mainstream newspapers dating to 1967. The newspapers are the top five U.S. dailies, The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times.
Headlines spanning five decades were put into two datasets, one comprising 17,492 Palestinian-centric headlines, and another comprising 82,102 Israeli-centric headlines. Using Natural Language Processing techniques, authors of the study assessed the degree to which the sentiment of the headlines could be classified as positive, negative, or neutral. They also examined the frequency of using certain words that evoke a particular view or perception.
Key findings of the study are:
Since 1967, use of the word “occupation” has declined by 85% in the Israeli dataset of headlines, and by 65% in the Palestinian dataset;
Since 1967, mentions of Palestinian refugees have declined by an overall 93%;
Israeli sources are nearly 250% more likely to be quoted as Palestinians;
The number of headlines centering Israel were published four times more than those centering Palestine;
Words connoting violence such as “terror” appear three times as much as the word “occupation” in the Palestinian dataset;
Explicit recognition that Israeli settlements and settlers are illegal rarely appears in both datasets;
Since 1967, mentions of “East Jerusalem,” distinguishing that part of the city occupied by Israel in 1967 from the rest of the city, appeared only a total of 132 times;
The Los Angeles Times has portrayed Palestinians most negatively, followed by The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, and lastly The New York Times;
Coverage of the conflict has reduced dramatically in the second half of the fifty-year period.