Monday, December 19, 2005

UCLA Stunningly Discovers Media Bias!

Well, who'd'a thouoght it? UCLA, not exactly a bastion of conservative thought, does a study of the media and discovers...that the media really is biased!
While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."
I've written pretty extensively about media bias, especially as it relates to firearms. I think the key point to remember is that bias is a function of the lack of intellectual diversity in newsrooms. Media outlets have gone to great lengths to guarantee their newsrooms exactly mirror the ethnic breakdown of the United States. But intellectually, newsrooms are as homogenous as a loaf of Wonder Bread.

Ironically, the white-breading of American journalism is, IMHO, a function of the professionalization of the media. When I started as a copyboy/junior reporter back When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, many of the journalists had come to the media from other professions, and they tended to fairly crosssectional in their politics and their knowledge base. As journalizsm professionalized itself and began drawing baby journalists almost exclusively from J-schools, it began a process of pre-selecting incoming "fodder" based not on their knowledge base, but on their ability to perform well in a liberal academic environment.

I tend to view baby journalists — and over the years I've worked with a lot of them — the same way seasoned attorneys view newly graduated law students...they're not really lawyers; they're the seeds lawyers may grow from. The problem is that, unlike baby attorneys who ideally go to work for a firm or the public defenders office, etc., baby journalists don't actually ever live in the world they report on — they go straight from the safe intellectual womb of college to being "objective," to "reporting" on the Real World as opposed to living in it.

That's why so much reporting, especially in local outlets, seems so vacuous or naive. When young reporters start out, the only standards they have to apply to their work are the standards of their liberal college professors...and remember, those who can, do; those who can't, teach. I did some guest-lecturing on journalism at several universities. One thing that struck me was that there were whole programs training kids to be magazine writers run by a large number of earnest men and women who had never written — or sold — an article to a commercial magazine and who were, in fact, in contempt of the business of magazines. They were fonts of misinformation.

Anyway, bias is — it exists, and it is a cancer at the heart of the Mainstream Media. Even UCLA thinks so...

1 comment:

Patrick Sweeney said...

Hey Mike, at one time I figured I could expand my income base and work for the local paper as a photographer. You know, decades of photo experience, lots of images to show in a portfolio. "First you need a J degree." I was told. "Then you work for a smaller paper and build a portfolio."

I could have had a Pulitzer Prize-winning on the scene photo in my portfolio and they'd pass on me, eh?

J degree indeed. Adult daycare is more like it.