In his media column in the Rocky Mountain News, Dave Kopel writes:
It would be unrealistic to expect local newspapers to be neutral about the success of hometown teams. Although sportswriters might criticize local coaches or players, the local papers are expected to hope that the local teams win. Thus, before the start of last year’s professional hockey playoffs, a News headline (April 7, 2004) read “Dear Abby, can we win?”
In news stories, the papers are sometimes scrupulous about not taking sides. For example, in most of the newspaper coverage of the battle of Fallujah last November, or this month’s “Operation Lightning” around Baghdad, a reader would find few, if any, hints that the writer wanted U.S. forces to beat the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi forces.
We’ve also noticed the huge disparity between how the sports page treats the home team and how the front page treats home.