News media are often criticized for its biased reporting on various issues, such as politics, race and gender. Accusations of bias are also there against national sports networks, such as ESPN and Fox. Sports-media watchdogs and fans often criticize these networks for demonstrating preferential treatment toward East Coast teams.
Rich Johnson, assistant professor in the Department of Journalism, Media, and Computing at Creighton University, and Miles Romney, assistant professor at Brigham Young University, analyzed the content of ESPN’s Sports Center and FOX’s FOX Sports Live to determine if regional and market bias exists.
Results showed that NBA and MLB had the most packages, 405 and 394 respectively. There were 257 college basketball packages, 162 packages from college football, 192 from the NHL, and 131 from the NFL.
Highlight packages featuring teams from the Northeast were, on average, 42 seconds longer than those including Western teams, approximately 30 seconds longer than those of the South and more than 20 seconds longer than those featuring Midwestern teams.
The results indicated that sports networks demonstrate geographic bias in their news and highlight shows, most notably in the length and depth of stories involving teams from regions other than the western United States. Conversely, West Coast teams consistently received less attention. Additionally, sports networks show preference toward teams from larger markets.
There was little difference in news coverage between FSL and SC. The authors said, “Such a finding provides possible evidence that both networks are ultimately choosing to highlight those teams likely to bring in higher television ratings.”
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2TWRgf1
Johnson, R. G., & Romney, M. (2018). How the West Was Lost: Geographic Bias on Sports-Network Highlight Shows. Journal of Sports Media, 13(1), 99-121.