Exclusive: The media bias against President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is real
Coverage of the dictator Putin is fives times that of Ukraine's President
Media Trends: Zelenskyy & Putin
An overview of journalistic bias against Ukraine’s President.
A significant media bias exists against President Zelesnkyy compared to the dictator Putin as seen in a sample of hundreds of thousands of stories written since 24/2/22.
(Note: Google Trends reflects the search results of all Google users on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being the maximum interest across all topics worldwide at any given time. Muck Rack allows users to monitor news, find relevant journalists, and sort journalists by publication and beat. Muck Rack indexes hundreds of thousands of news outlets.)
It has been noted in many outlets that Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression has received significantly less worldwide attention in the media since the beginning months of the full scale invasion. While this is in fact true (see the graphs from Google and Muck Rack below showing search results for the terms “Russia” and “Ukraine”) a different concern has also been identified.
Since 24/2/2022, news articles containing the name Vladimir Putin were published almost 5,000,000 times, while those containing the name Volodymyr Zelesnkyy were less than 1,000,000.
The trend lines relating to the individual men are similar to the country focused search results, indicating a significant spike in interest in February, followed by a deep overall slide before eventually settling out.
While stories containing the word Ukraine outnumber the term Russia by approximately 10%, Putin has been able to maintain control of the global narrative, reaching as high as a more than 7-1 ratio of mentions vs. President Zelenskyy at the beginning of September.
Another issue to highlight is that Putin has had several “spikes” in coverage, showing that the Russian dictators ability to influence the news cycle has remained strong despite being significantly out performed on the battlefield by the ZSU and in the diplomatic arena by President Zelensky.
A Google Trends search of the names Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy shows that it isn’t just journalists who are writing less about President Zelensky than the dictator Putin. A gulf exists in the general overall interest between the men although by a smaller margin than what is found in the media.
No research has been done to compare positive and negative coverage of either leader or country-based searches.
The marginally smaller gap between the two men found in the Google graph, as compared to Muck Rack, could indicate that the general public finds President Zelenskyy more compelling than the dictator Putin when left to make up their own minds.
While I appreciate what you are trying to do, I don’t think such a simple analysis as you provide is really evidence of the bias you claim. If there are more mentions of Putin it is partly because he is doing more bad things. It would be nice if Zelensky was mentioned as often for good things as Putin was mentioned for bad things but that’s not realistic in the media. A real attempt to discover bias would need to count each mention for “good” and “bad” and then count up. Also it depends which media you are counting in.
Thank you for this very insightful article. I love your honest coverage of the conflict.