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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Media bias

Does mass media have a liberal bias? Conservatives, of course, frequently claim that it does have such a bias.

However, as I've taught my students in American Foreign Policy for many years, talk-radio is dominated by the right, newspapers and television are increasingly corporate, Fox News is obviously right-leaning, and "regular" liberal reporters embrace norms of fairness that cause them to report balanced information even when there's no justification -- such as on climate change.

I previously meant to blog this Paul Waldman item, which speaks to media quoting of conservative or liberal think tanks. From The American Prospect, October 2010:
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a progressive group that opposes media bias and censorship, reports that progressive groups have seen their proportion of media citations steadily rise in recent years.

But the left is still chasing the right. The Center for American Progress is probably the signature success of recent liberal institution building; its 2008 budget was $26.3 million. But the Heritage Foundation, its closest competitor on the right, spent $64.6 million that year. The left's think tanks get quoted more than they used to, reports FAIR, but the right's think tanks still get quoted more than the left's. In 2008, conservative think tanks made up 31 percent of all think-tank citations, while progressive think tanks made up 21 percent. The gap has narrowed but not disappeared.
Waldman actually provides a good deal of interesting information about progressive attempts to build a media network to counter the conservative successes. However, as Waldman notes, Air America's failure demonstrates one huge hurdle faced by those making the effort to build liberal counterparts to Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. Progressives
seek out outlets like National Public Radio that are less combative and more factual. It shouldn't be surprising that a substantial body of social-psychological research has found that conservatives tend to be less tolerant of ambiguity than liberals.
In one of my college Communications classes, the professor gave students a test that determined one's degree of dogmatism. It turned out that I was the least dogmatic person in the class.

My debate colleague at the time, incidentally, was the most dogmatic person in the class -- though he wasn't a conservative so far as I know.

Note: This item was pulled at random from my huge stack of "to-be-blogged" material. Sorry for the lack of blogging lately. I've been fairly active on Twitter, which makes me a better reader, but I just have not been in the mood to blog. I'm going to try to reduce the stack of items pulled from magazines and newspapers because it would be nice to have someplace to find these items when I try to recall where I put something.

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