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Is it ever possible to work out whether media are biased? Bias may be in the eye of the beholder, and perhaps we are all too prone to seeing bias whenever our preferences are challenged.

One way is to study the stated political preferences of journalists, and to compare them with national political preferences as shown by election results. Will journalists be to the left, to the right, or bang in the middle of the national political dimension?

Before getting into that topic, start with another question: why would anyone be a journalist? The only qualification is to be able to write, which most people can do. Having an opinion helps, but other skills are not essential. If you want to write on any topic, you simply ring people up, interview them, and write up your story. If people read it, you are a journalist.

Seen from a career point of view, writing things is not a very exclusive occupation. The bar to entry is not high. Teaching maths at school is more demanding, as are keeping accounts, servicing washing machines and repairing engines.

Nonetheless, why be a journalist when you can do other things? One commonly stated reason is: To make a difference. By implication, journalists want to change things by exposing them.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353756955_The_Left-liberal_Skew_of_Western_Media

Many studies have indicated that there is a left-wing bias in the media. Indeed, lists of the most watched TV news channels and most read newspapers suggest that there are simply more left-wing outlets than right wing ones, so it is more than bias, it is hegemony. A simple explanation is that journalism is a left-wing activity, by and large. Left wing people are trying to change society. Right wing people are trying to make money, not scribbling.

The authors took great care to find objective ways to categorize political parties on the left to right dimension, only to find that these detailed methods correlated at .85 with the Wiki descriptions. However, the independent raters were far less likely to rate political parties as being “far Right” than was the case for Wikipedia descriptions.

They studied 17 countries, mostly European ones. They researched journalist’s actual voting behaviour, or voting intention

It can be seen that, apart from in Slovenia, journalists are to the left of the countries in which they work. This is a massive effect. It holds true even when countries lean to the left, as some European countries do.

All their data can be found in a publicly available data repository. https://osf.io/6uvnu/

The main finding is simple: journalists favour left-wing parties, with a correlation of .5 though this is mostly due to their support of centre left parties, not the far left ones.

 

Compared to the general voting population, journalists prefer parties that are associated with the following ideologies: green parties/environmentalism, feminism, support for the European Union, socialism. Conversely, journalists are less likely than the general voting population to support parties associated with the following ideologies: national conservatism, libertarianism, populism, nationalism and conservatism.

the general population votes about 6.1 times more for national conservative parties as journalists do, whereas journalists vote about 3.0 times more for green parties.

Journalists lean left overall. Another group who write for a living are academics. Which way do they lean?

Langbert (2018) found that the ratio of Democrat to Republican professors was 17.4:1 in History, 43.8:1 in Sociology and 133:1 in Anthropology.

This may lead to a self-confirming amplification effect: journalists are more likely to quote left-leaning academics, who will thus have a higher profile, and will get cited and funded more often, and have more influence on other academics, and thus lead their fields in particular directions. If the left dominate in both media and academia, then the best-known research will be left-inspired.

Is the bias media and academia a bad thing? Yes, and it would have been as bad if a bias to the right had been revealed. The ideal is that both journalists and academics should be even-handed, and give a balanced evaluation of the available evidence. Devoutly to be wished, but rarely achieved. Perhaps people love a fight, and love taking sides.

I doubt that any steps can be taken to ensure balance in journalists. Many people on the right will feel that they have better things to do than go about convincing people. If that is the case, the best that can be hoped for is that journalists nail their colours to the mast so that readers can be warned where their deepest preferences lie. Readers have to pick their way through different news sources, trying to put together the least implausible account. Let a thousand flowers bloom, as Mao said before cutting off their heads.

As for academia, academics have made a profound life choice: they are not direct producers of wealth, but provide a service at a cost. It is natural that, having chosen that life, they are in favour of more funding for research, and willing to countenance more taxation to fund that research. If their research is based on solid methods their personal preferences need not be fatal to truth seeking. But I am left with a feeling that if a few more right-leaning persons might be willing to enter academia, they would provide a small dissenting voice which might illuminate some blind spots.

Currently, journalists in 17 countries lean left, and that distorts the basis on which those democracies work.

 
• Category: Science • Tags: American Media, Political Correctness 
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  1. dearieme says:

    My bias is exactly congruent with yours, doc.

    I must admit I did once know a journalist who proved amenable to reason; she changed her mind on a topic when I gave her a compelling argument. So she clearly wasn’t entirely left wing.

    Another journalist I knew had an expression I loved. He was a political journalist; whenever I mentioned a politician of whom he disapproved (anyone to the right of the middle of the Labour Party) he would announce “I will destroy him”. To get the full effect, repeat that in a bass Glaswegian growl.

  2. A123 says: • Website

    Given the atrocious bias of the U.S. Fake Stream Media [FSM] why is the score only -0.40 for the U.S. versus much larger European differences ?

    Some possibilities:

    -1- Technical — As a functioning 2-party democracy, the “far” weights are incidentally excluded. While U.S. reporters would likely personally align with the Green party, they very rarely come out and say that.

    -2- Terminology — What do “Left” and “Right” mean? In the U.S., “Right” MAGA stands up for workers. “Left” SJW/DNC stands for Wall Street Banks, BigPharma, and other MegaCorporations. In terms of U.S. politics, the traditional left-right spectrum no longer works.

    -3- Leakage — Smaller European media markets are responding to reporters that are several steps removed from thier national norms. A great deal of highly offensive German state run DW reporting reaches German speaking Austria (-1.10).

    There are likely additional factors.

    Is the bias media and academia a bad thing? Yes, and it would have been as bad if a bias to the right had been revealed. The ideal is that both journalists and academics should be even-handed, and give a balanced evaluation of the available evidence

    I disagree that pure 50/50 even handedness is desirable.

    Damage caused by the FSM and a extreme SJW Academia must be fixed. In the short-term, the U.S. will need a period where Populism and Patriotism are mandatory for reporters and teachers. This will help pull the U.S. population away destructive Globalist ideologies.

    Long-term, attempts to allow for perfect even handedness are inherently unstable. The concept lacks the necessary resiliency to avoid slipping into another SJW failure mode. Remember media is global, thus foreign governments and agents will intentionally attempt to insert anti-Populist ideas into domestic press & academia.

    In order to keep nations cohesive as nations, a significant amount of Populist bias will need to permanently remain in media and academia to support the cultural core identity. This builds in the necessary resistance to outside corrupting forces.

    PEACE 😇

  3. But I am left with a feeling that if a few more right-leaning persons might be willing to enter academia

    Speaking from the US perspective, this is just not an option outside of either very special ostentatiously “conservative” colleges, I don’t think any are universities, and which are still almost uniformly still moving left, or maybe some of the low prestige two or four year colleges we have at the bottom tier of our system, in Red state of course. This is one result of our Left’s “march through the institutions.”

    One other problem is that as our higher education administrative staff has ballooned and taken over much or all of the power of running their institutions from the faculty, a lot of tenured academic positions have being turned into “gig economy” style “associate professor” positions where people are hired no more than a class or year at a time for low salaries that don’t provide resources including time for independent scholarship. Which if right of Mao or hit one of the every changing tripwires of the woke would end their careers, such as they are. Also an IQ shredder, they’re not getting paid enough to have families absent a second income from a wife.

    Some fraction of us on the dissident Right think the only solution to this general problem is to literally tear down these hostile institutions, as in bulldoze, leave no two bricks or stones standing on top of each other, aside from libraries and some STEM research facilities. US academia in general is leading is into another Communist genocide, is a or the primary source of our “woke,” and in any case is overproducing “elites” which is always a recipe for unrest when most of them can’t find positions in society anywhere close to their ambitions, anywhere close what they were told they’d be able to do after graduating, very often with crushing debt.

    For an archetypal case until she was picked for high office by a non-establishment political faction, see our AOC as in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Father was an architect, had an upper middle class upbringing in a wealthy suburb of NYC, “came in second in the microbiology category of” our most prestigious high school science fair, attended a second tier elite university, interned for Ted Kennedy which was no small thing, then after graduation infamously worked as bartender and waitress.

    Although that could be something of a special case as her father died in her second year in college and probate was according to her predatory, credible because there are a number of US states where that’s common, one smaller one the East coast where it’s a universal racket starting with the judges. But low class or inconsequential jobs are a very common fate for a bunch if not the majority of our over-educated, envious outer circle types.

    • Thanks: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @dearieme
  4. dearieme says:
    @That Would Be Telling

    I applaud whoever it was who started referring to her as Alexandria Occasional-Cortex.

  5. jb says:

    One useful way to put it is that when leftist journalists support their claims by quoting leftist academics, they are effectively quoting themselves. It’s the same of course when leftist academics quote other leftist academics. They all kneel before the same alter and read from the same prayer book. They are quoting themselves.

  6. What exactly does “left” mean? Ginning up wars? Valorizing the CIA? Valorizing billionaires and vapid celebrities?

    Learn The Clarification: The left is just as bad as the right and the worst of the left are worse than the worst of the right and that’s really bad.

  7. res says:

    Those results seem plausible, but the raters are a very small sample.

    23 out of 25 raters were Danish (the remaining two were Dutch and Portugese, respectively); 60% were male; and they were aged between 17 and 30.

    Austria and France are interesting outliers for bias. Any thoughts on that?

    The US journalist figure seems high to me. Do any Europeans have thoughts on the differences between countries there?

    P.S. The link to the data has extra characters which break it. Here is a working version.
    https://osf.io/6uvnu/

    • Replies: @A123
    , @James Thompson
    , @A123
  8. songbird says:

    Political and ethnic labels should be mandatory, like ingredient labels on most processed foods.

  9. “Many people on the right will feel that they have better things to do than go about convincing people.”

    If you were a young journalist, and you were on the right, and you wanted to convince people (in a rightward direction), your career would be pretty short.

    All the well known ‘rightie’ journalists are getting on in years, there are no youthful firebrands.

    I imagine this kind of “Community Cohesion Partnership” is training journalists well.

    “The Berwick Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership (CDRP) is working with the local press/media to vet stories involving migrant workers from eastern Europe and Portugal employed in the food processing and agricultural sectors to prevent stigmatisation.”

    https://web.archive.org/web/20121005011542/http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/communities/pdf/787910.pdf

    Plenty of journalists did well career-wise chasing down the Lawrence murderers, but who’s going to invest in nailing the unconvicted killers of Gavin Hopley or Ben Hitchcock?

    https://m.facebook.com/RecusantNine/photos/a.108905037341994/253501842882312/?type=3&source=54

  10. A123 says: • Website
    @res

    Austria and France are interesting outliers for bias. Any thoughts on that?

    I conjectured above the possibility for Austria

    https://www.unz.com/jthompson/media-bias/#comment-4942981

    — Though I will restate and clarify —

    -3- Leakage — Smaller European media markets may be responding to reporters that are several steps removed from their national norms. A great deal of highly offensive [to Austrians] German state run DW reporting reaches German speaking Austria (-1.10).

    The US journalist figure seems high to me.

    That was my thought too. I cannot believe that U.S. and Canadian reporters have a Populist bias in U.S.

    It may be an artifact based on the definitions of “Left” and “Right” being very different in North America versus the rest of the globe (see #2 above).

    PEACE 😇

  11. @res

    Thanks for new link.
    Will ask authors to comment.

  12. A123 says: • Website
    @res

    Res,

    While I do not recall you posting up in AKarlin recently, I believe you did so in the past.

    He is closing out here, so if you have any final words for him, now is the time.

    https://www.unz.com/akarlin/last-reaction/

    PEACE 😇

    • Thanks: res
  13. The MSM in the Anglo West, that with which I am acquainted, are pro-capitalist, pro-Empire, pro-elite etc, as you would expect. Their jobs in the private-owned MSM, owned by those very imperialist, capitalist, oligarchs depend on it. The way that the likes of Murdoch do NOT tolerate any deviation from his editorial line, is infamous.
    To call them ‘left liberal’ is silly. Economically, in class terms and from the point of view of the Atlanticist Empire, they are as ‘Right’ as their supposed political opponents. They simply believe in social liberalism, because they wish to indulge their personal preferences free of ‘conservative’ repression or abuse. I doubt that many feel any sympathy for any oppressed minority, save where that oppression impinges on their own desires.
    This propaganda system for the rich owners of society is 100% uniform in opinion, with totalitarian Groupthink that has reached levels of repression under the CoViD tyranny that beggar belief. It is, I believe, a ‘psychic epidemic’ such as Jung described, where a ruling elite, as the social/economic/cultural edifice they constructed to favour them over all others, crumbles, go stark raving mad. More than a few, when on TV mouthing their lies, of ‘safe and effective vaccines’ of ivermectin being useless poison, of any who dare ask ANY question being ‘anti-vaxxers’ and ‘domestic terrorists’, display all the facial contortions, particularly of the eyes, and unhinged verbiage of the clinically insane in the throes of paranoid terror. These are psychotic monsters capable of any atrocity.

  14. LondonBob says:

    I had a job a few years ago that entailed working alongside some journalists, the most left wing, blinkered people I have ever met! There is a history of firebrand right wing journalism in Britain but this has all died within the past twenty years, or is this a false impression of mine?

    As for academia I am terrified my academic uncle is going to invite me up to dinner at his college in Cambridge, my brother has gone already and said they were a bunch of weirdos, disproportionately homosexual or lesbian.

    I think the issue remains that right wing people are more open minded, they will hire across the political spectrum, the left isn’t, hence why such institutions become increasingly left wing. Right wing people end up working in jobs where politics isn’t relevant.

    • Agree: ruralguy
  15. anonymous[197] • Disclaimer says:

    “As for academia, academics have made a profound life choice: they are not direct producers of wealth, but provide a service at a cost. It is natural that, having chosen that life, they are in favour of more funding for research, and willing to countenance more taxation to fund that research.”

    This is the second least insightful analysis in the last few weeks of human history.

    More serious reasons for the prevalence of liberal attitudes among academics have been intelligently discussed by many before. Incidentally, most academics in the humanities fields would rather just teach. They are pressured, often relentlessly, into doing research by universities and their tenure procedures. You can see this by looking at their publications lists. Many produce fewer publications after tenure, some even not publishing at all.

    The least insightful analysis in the last few weeks was also from the same author. He enlightened the world by saying that the reason the Afghan National Army did not defeat the Taliban is that they were provided with weapons too sophisticated for their IQ’s.

  16. Jmaie says:

    Being left (or right) wing does not preclude quality journalism. Used to be, journalists operated under a set of conventions that was designed to produce unbiased reporting. It was an ethical requirement. But no longer…

    As example, a reporter would never write, “Such and such is true.” He would instead quote an authority figure on the matter. Idea being that personal opinion should never enter the arena, however that has changed. Over the last four years, how many times did we hear, “President Trump said, without evidence…”

    NPR is generally regarded as left wing but you rarely hear anything truly biased said. Rather it is the subjects they chose to cover. This was not a problem when there was variety of news sources but that’s no longer the case. Consolidation of the industry has hurt, but IMHO there is a bigger problem. The internet has destroyed the profitability of independent journalists, most of the reporting comes from a small handful of sources (AP, as example) and those are repeated ad nauseum. Those few truly alternative new sources are seen by only a tiny fraction of the public, leading the uncurious to think there a unanimity of opinion that doesn’t actually exist.

  17. This is why we need Free Speech and Alt Media. True, free speech + alt media lead to a lot of crazy opinions and conspiracy theories and other crackpottery, but they still offer more truth than so-called mainstream media that are totally owned and controlled by Jewish Supremacists who hire and fire people on the basis of who’s-with-the-program.

    The good thing about alt media is people in it have no power to shut others down. They can shout but can’t shut down. In contrast, the big media, in cahoots with deep state, can shut people down. Ask Alex Jones.

    And Covid BS proved that the powers-that-be are into Decree Speech.

  18. Would be interesting to see these results cross checked with public opinion polls regarding how much they trust their media sources. I know US trust in media has been in a sharp decline for at least a decade. Personally if a MSM news anchor told me that grass was green I’d go outside with a color wheel just to be sure. The ease at which media sources can distort the truth via carefully edited videos, cropped or staged photos, and selective reporting has eroded my naïve former beliefs that journalists care about the truth. I have no doubt that there are some real journalists out there, but their works are either directly censored, “Fact Checked” into the ever growing sphere of fake news for offering facts or opinions that go counter to the current narrative, or simply obfuscated by a preponderance of Buzzfeed tier writing.

  19. onebornfree says: • Website

    “As for academia, academics have made a profound life choice: they are not direct producers of wealth, but provide a service at a cost. It is natural that, having chosen that life, they are in favour of more funding for research, and willing to countenance more taxation to fund that research. ”

    “It is easy to be conspicuously ‘compassionate’ if others are being forced to pay the cost.”
    Murray Rothbard

    “States have always needed intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable.” Murray Rothbard

    Regards, onebornfree

  20. Mike Tre says:

    “Before getting into that topic, start with another question: why would anyone be a journalist?

    Too ugly to be a prostitute and not smart enough to do anything else.

  21. dearieme says:

    Increasingly I don’t know what to believe. Is this real or doctored?

    • Replies: @A123
  22. A123 says: • Website
    @dearieme

    It is almost certainly real. Not-The-President Biden was in obvious mental decline before the election. His 9/11 outing was also incomprehensible: (1)

    This is funny. Sky News host Rita Panahi says she will “personally write a cheque” for anyone who can decipher what Joe Biden is trying to convey in his statements from Shankesville Pennsylvania on September 11th.

    He seems to get worse every day. Brace yourself for Kamala’s elevation. Sooner rather than later, Biden is going to #EpicFail in manner that his handlers and puppeteers cannot fix.

    PEACE 😇
    __________

    (1) https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2021/09/13/sky-news-journalist-offers-to-write-a-check-to-anyone-who-can-decipher-what-the-heck-joe-biden-is-saying/

     

  23. Kali Ma says:

    Something you didn’t mention but is something that I have researched is that a large percentage of journalists come from upper middle class to lower level upper class families, and usually with political connections at the local or national level, or connections to the university system at a high level (lots of journalists have professors as parents). Many have connections to other types of politically connected professions such as parents from high level medical research, psychiatry, etc.

    What we see in journalism today is a result of a class system where the failsons and faildaughters of successful people get entry into journalism because of nepotism, i.e., because of their parents profession or family connections they know people who get their kids easy entree into journalism at places that pay a respectable salary. Essentially a large percentage of journalists are the progeny of the new liberal gentry, the class of people beneath the very rich, their parents or relatives are often professors, doctors, researchers for government funded organizations and all sorts of NGOs, etc. And if their parents are not that successful they usually have a relative who is. If you look into the backgrounds of journalists who have jobs at popular liberal publications or on TV it is rare to find someone who doesn’t comport to that background. Someone like Tucker Carlson is the norm rather than the aberration, except they are usually liberals.

    • Agree: LondonBob
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