Monday, May 24, 2004

Media bias by the numbers

According to "Editor & Publisher," the official publication of the U.S. news media, the proportion of self-defined "liberals" in newsrooms is increasing much faster tyhan that of self-defined "conservatives," and the ratio is well out of proportion to the nation as a whole:

NEW YORK Those convinced that liberals make up a disproportionate share of newsroom workers have long relied on Pew Research Center surveys to confirm this view, and they will not be disappointed by the results of Pew's latest study released today.

While most of the journalists, like many Americans, describe themselves as "moderate," a far higher number are "liberal" than in the general population.

At national organizations (which includes print, TV and radio), the numbers break down like this: 34% liberal, 7% conservative. At local outlets: 23% liberal, 12% conservative. At Web sites: 27% call themselves liberals, 13% conservatives.

This contrasts with the self-assessment of the general public: 20% liberal, 33% conservative.

And as for the shift over time, since 1995, Pew found at national outlets that the liberal segment has climbed from 22% to 34% while conservatives have only inched up from 5% to 7%.

It's important to remember that this is a self-assessment. And, from my experience, the majority of journalists who describe themselves as "moderates" actually break toward the left on most issues. If you consider the schism between newsrooms and the rest of the U.S., it's not surprising that a "moderate" in the subculture will be a "liberal" in the larger culture.