NEW YORK - A study of news coverage of the war in Iraq fails to support a conclusion that events were portrayed either negatively or positively most of the time.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism looked at nearly 2,200 stories on television, newspapers and Web sites and found that most of them couldn't be categorized either way.
Twenty-five percent of the stories were negative and 20 percent were positive, according to the study, released Sunday by the Washington-based think tank.
Despite the exhaustive look, the study likely won't change the minds of war supporters who considered the media hostile to the Bush administration, or opponents who think reporters weren't questioning enough, according Tom Rosenstiel, the project's director.
"There was enough of both to annoy both camps," he said. "But the majority of stories were just news."
The three network evening newscasts tended to be more negative than positive, while the opposite was true of morning shows, the study said. Fox News Channel was twice as likely to be positive than negative, unlike the more evenhanded CNN and MSNBC, the study said.
A Pew Research Center poll of 3,000 people last spring found that more than one-third of news consumers regularly check out at least four different kinds of news outlets, among the Web, newspapers, magazines, radio and local, national or cable TV.
Americans are now "news grazers," the study said.
The notion that Americans are headed toward a more partisan form of news consumption isn't borne out by research, Rosenstiel said. With the exception of Republican cable news viewers who prefer Fox, most media consumption mirrors the population in general.