Media bias by the numbers

A new study by two researchers Lars Willnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana University, contains no surprises about media bias – except, perhaps, how incredibly skewed toward Democrats the journalistic professsion is.

Washington Times:

A mere 7 percent of journalists identify as Republicans, and when they do give money to political campaigns they usually donate to Democrats, lending evidence to Republican presidential candidates’ claims that they are facing a hostile audience when they deal with the press.

As Republican candidates prepare for their fourth debate of the primary season Tuesday in Milwaukee, the people doing the questioning are increasingly in the spotlight, with their motives being questioned by the campaigns, voters and even by their fellow journalists.

And self-proclaimed Democratic journalists outnumber Republicans by 4-to-1, according to research by Lars Willnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana University. They found 28 percent of journalists call themselves Democrats, while just 7 percent call themselves Republicans — though both numbers are down from the 1970s. Those identifying as independent have grown.

Among Washington correspondents, the ones who dominate national political coverage, it’s even more skewed, said Tim Groseclose, author of “Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.” More than 90 percent of D.C. journalists vote Democratic, with an even higher number giving to Democrats or liberal-leaning political action committees, the author said.

“There’s something in the DNA of liberals that makes them want to go into jobs like the arts, journalism and academia more so than conservatives,” Mr. Groseclose said. “Even if you’re just trying to maximize profits by offering an alternative point of view, it’s hard to find conservative reporters. So it’s natural the media is more liberal.”

Those journalists who claim to be "independent" are cowards for not owning up to their liberalism.  And while the study was not about career journalists, I would bet that conservative reporters are promoted to editor jobs far less often than liberal journalists.

In a way, editors are even more important to a published story than the reporter.  Editors shape a story, making them capable of adding (or subtracting) bias in the final product.  For example, an editor can remove exculpatory facts – or bury them – from a story about a Republican politician, while making facts that reflect favorably on a liberal politician more prominent.  The effect is subtle but telling.

Media bias is a fact of life.  And it's not going to even out any time soon.  The only solution is to encourage more young conservatives to get into journalism, where eventually the numbers may make a difference.

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