Friday 22 February 2019

Irish newspapers printed three times more 'Yes' vote articles ahead of marriage equality referendum - study

Banners encouraging voters to support the Yes and the No campaign in the Irish same-sex marriage referendum are seen in Dublin
Banners encouraging voters to support the Yes and the No campaign in the Irish same-sex marriage referendum are seen in Dublin Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ireland’s national newspapers carried three times more ‘Yes’ articles in support of the marriage equality referendum than “No”, claims s media monitor group.

There was a total of 424 ‘Yes’ pieces published in ten national titles in a three week period between May 1st and 20th, compared to just 135 'No' articles”, an analysis from Newsaccess Media Intelligence found.

A further 214 ‘neutral’ articles were carried in the same period by the newspapers, which included the Irish Independent, Sunday Independent and The Herald.

“Unlike broadcast media, which must provide balanced coverage of referenda, the print media are not subject to such strictures,” said Laurie Mannix, managing director for MKC Communications, which commissioned the research.

The study was released just hours before polling stations around the country opened for citizens to vote in the marriage equality referendum, and a second to lower the age of the president.

It found the Irish Independent published the highest volume of stories in favour of a no vote - 38 - with another 38 neutral and 79 for a yes.

The Herald was said to have had the highest percentage of yes articles (74.19pc), while the Mail on Sunday was deemed to be the most balanced, but only published 11 articles on the issue in total.

Elsewhere The Irish Times was found to have published the most articles on the referendum since the beginning of May, having both the highest 'yes' and 'neutral' articles.

The study also examined the Irish Examiner, Daily Mail,  The Star, Sunday Times and Sunday Business Post.

In total 773 articles were read and analysed by Newsaccess Media Intelligence, who said they examined whether the tone of each piece was in favour of a Yes vote, a No vote or a Neutral analysis of the referendum.

Based on the study, figures show that, on average, pieces favouring a ‘Yes’ vote accounted for 54.85 pc of articles published during the three week period looked at.
“Because of the enormous significance of tomorrow’s Referendum, and the welter of charge and counter-charge about the media’s treatment of the subject in recent weeks, we decided that it would be an important exercise to bring some scientific measurement and facts to the issue of how the Referendum debate was reported in Irish media,” said Ms Mannix.

“This research confirms the broad and widespread support in the Irish print media for a Yes vote.”

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