Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I visited foxnews.com for my field notes study. Although “fair and balanced,” Fox News is geared toward people with a more conservative bent. Because of this, I thought it’d be interesting to see their take on “Super Tuesday.” The first thing a user would most likely see upon visiting the site is an advertisement for Samsung. I think the ad is provided by Comcast, but I’m not sure. The next thing down is an advertisement for Greta Van Sustren’s On the Record, to be seen at 1 a.m., in about 15 minutes – making it very timely. The navigation bars are a mix between content and advertisements/shopping. They range from “Real Estate” to the O’Reilly Factor.

The largest picture on the site is one of John Kerry. Underneath is sound bite-type information on what has happened in relation to his wins, such as Hillary Clinton’s endorsement. All information seems very timely, as I didn’t hear most of it on CNN’s midnight replaying of their 9 p.m. coverage.

The top stories of the day are ones that aren’t seen elsewhere, such as information on Dennis Hastert moving the 9/11 investigation forward, the boarder patrol “still lacking,” and experts differing on the state of the economy. This may be because Roger Ailes is a die-hard Republican – a former GOP operative, producer of the short-lived Rush Limbaugh show, etc. Also, many anchors are Republican: Tony Snow was a speechwriter for Bush Sr.; O’Reilly was a Republican until it was revealed in a Wash Post article, Brit Hume used to be a conservative commentator, etc. This may be why the “Views” section contains only conservative opinions, including one from the powerful conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation – which has its own special section in “Views.”

For the most part, Fox news labels its advertisements and separates them with a box. However, it may be unclear to some visitors when it advertises, such as the ads for a “Hannity book for 99 cents,” or the Fox Shop, where you can buy Fox News clothing (I just bought my whole spring wardrobe).

Also interesting is “Fox News Access,” sponsored by SBC, in which text comes up showing a corresponding video. The text is somewhat leading, asking what a President Kerry would do to terrorists “who want to kill us,” and whether Anheuser-Bush is making a mistake for hiring Ludacris to sell beer (O’Reilly has vehemently opposed Ludacris selling products in the past). While Fox News’ positions in news could be argued as objective, its selection of news seems to be aimed at conservatives. Also, it seems to favor people looking casually at news, browsing at their leisure. It wouldn’t be that useful for research purposes – a newspaper would probably be more thorough.

Although I would definitely not recommend Fox News, I have some friends who live by it. However, they thought Saddam had WMD’s until about last week and heard nothing about the CIA leak and Bush’s Vietnam controversy until other networks aired it, and heard the rumor about Kerry’s intern when no other networks (I think) covered it. Yea, I guess I’m not that fair and balanced…

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