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CLALS | Bias or Neutrality?



A study prepared by American University’s Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS)

April 2015

Executive Summary

This study assesses the extent to which the Globovisión television station provided balanced coverage of political and social events in Venezuela during the polarized period spanning from the fall of 2013 through the summer of 2014. It analyzes Globovisión’s coverage surrounding the municipal elections of 2013; the wave of opposition street demonstrations in early 2014; international efforts to convene talks between the government and opposition in the spring of 2014; and the shortages of basic goods during the summer of that year. The study focuses on whether Globovisión provided unbiased coverage in terms of the access given to representatives from the government and opposition, the favorability of the presentation and portrayal of prominent individuals and organizations, and the choice of issues and perspectives receiving coverage.

Drawing on state-of-the-art scholarly methods of media content analysis, the study analyzes data from 88 hour-long broadcasts, including some 600 news stories or interview segments featuring more than 1,000 different individuals and discussion of 36 different topics. The study finds that Globovisión’s framing of the issues tended to be neutral, and that bias in favor of the government was no more likely than bias in favor of the opposition.

While overall Globovisión achieved its goal of providing unbiased coverage of the most critically important social and political events in the country, there were differences between the periods and issues covered as well as across particular measurements of bias. Opposition voices received more total coverage than pro-government voices during the periods surrounding the municipal elections and the street demonstrations, and this coverage tended to be unfavorable to the government. However, pro-government perspectives received slightly more coverage when the international dimensions of the crisis or the shortages of basic goods were the topics of discussion. The analysis also shows that news stories that appeared earlier in a broadcast tended to be relatively more pro-government, whereas those appearing toward the end of a broadcast were more favorable to the opposition.

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