Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Men Behind the Curtain

Eighty three percent of American voters think the media is biased one way or the other, according to a Zogby poll. But most believe that media is biased in the liberal direction.

While 97% of Republicans surveyed said the media are liberal, two-thirds of political independents feel the same, but fewer than one in four independents (23%) said they saw a conservative bias. Democrats, while much more likely to perceive a conservative bias than other groups, were not nearly as sure the media was against them as were the Republicans. While Republicans were unified in their perception of a left-wing media, just two-thirds of Democrats were certain the media skewed right – and 17% said the bias favored the left.


Maybe voters now accept media "bias" as the actual state of the world and in an era of wider consumer choice, will simply patronize outlets reflecting their point of view. British newspapers have longed been aligned with political parties. No one was foolish enough to think the Guardian was neutral; it was the house organ of a particular point of view. But if this change in voter attitude persists it will create problems for media empires which strive to project themselves as being "above it all". In what sense can the New York Times remain the 'newspaper of record' in a marketplace where 83% of the readers think that the media is partisan? Maybe it is better for them to simply nail their colors to the mast and let their readers allow for point of view.


Blogger Tony said...

The NYT nailed their colors to the mast when the ran Abu Ghraib on the front page for over five straight weeks. To whom was Abu Ghraib the most important story in the world for five weeks?

3/14/2007 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger Starling said...

For anyone who has not read it it, I highly recommend a paper written by two political scientists, Tim Groseclose & Jeff Milyo, entitled "A Measure of Media Bias."

Here's link to a pdf version of the paper.

The authors came up with a very clever way to operationalize media bias. I have looked but have yet to see a better measure. Below is a copy of the paper's abstract; it contains a summary of the key findings.

"Abstract: We measure media bias by estimating ideological scores for several major media outlets. To compute this, we count the times that a particular media outlet cites various think tanks and policy groups, then compare this with the times that members of
Congress cite the same groups. Our results show a strong liberal bias: all of the news outlets we examine, except Fox News’ Special Report and the Washington Times, received scores to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with claims made by conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received scores far to the left of center. The most centrist media outlets were PBS NewsHour, CNN’s Newsnight, and ABC’s Good Morning America; among print outlets, USAToday was closest to the center. All of our findings refer strictly to news content; that is, we exclude editorials, letters, and the like."

3/15/2007 03:13:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

When you read on-line newspapers out of the Middle East, without fail they *all* refer to the Western media's pro-conservative bias and support for Bush and "his war".

I simply don't understand this point of view. Is it a case of projection in that in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, newspapers *always* print ONLY what the government has approved, so therefore the same must pertain in New York, too, even though a cursory reading of the NY Times shows otherwise?

Or are these Arabic newspapers deliberatly printing another lie so that their readers who aren't familiar with the LA Times, NY Times or WaPo will believe that those newspapers are pro-war?

Or are the Arabs so lamentably English-deficient that they simply don't understand what it is they're reading in American (and British) newspapers?

3/15/2007 02:45:00 PM  
Blogger Mr. Spog said...

Nobody was foolish enough to think that the Guardian was neutral? I don't know about that. Many Britons seem to think the BBC is neutral, and it is notorious for mirroring Guardian views.

3/15/2007 03:44:00 PM  

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