Anyone who regularly watches television news will not be surprised by the general conclusion of a recent Media Research Center study: TV reporters do not like guns. Still, the conservative group's attempt to quantify the bias (available at www.mediaresearch.org/specialreports/news/sr20000105b.html) yields some startling numbers.
The center's analysts examined coverage of gun issues by four evening newscasts (on ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN) and three morning shows (on ABC, CBS, and NBC) from July 1, 1997, through June 30, 1999--a period that includes the massacre at Columbine High School and its aftermath. Counting up reporters' pro- and anti-gun statements, they classified a story as "pro-gun" if the ratio of pro-gun statements to anti-gun statements exceeded 1.5 to 1; they called a story "anti-gun" if the ratio went the other way. The rest of the stories were considered neutral.
"In 653 gun policy stories," the center reports, "those advocating more gun control outnumbered stories opposing gun control by 357 to 36, or a ratio of almost 10 to 1, while 260 were categorized as neutral."