Accuracy in Media

It’s finally starting to dawn on some in the media that diversity should mean something other than hiring minorities and homosexuals.  In an article in The Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes quoted Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism as saying it’s necessary not to think just of diversity that makes newsrooms “look like America,” but to create a press corps that “thinks like America.”

“In truth,” said Barnes, “the effort to hire more minorities and women has had the effect of making the media more liberal.  Both these groups tend to have liberal politics, and this is accentuated by the fact that many of the women recruited into journalism are young and single, precisely those with the most liberal views.”  Rosenstiel says, “By diversifying the profession in one way, they were making it more homogenous in another.”

This discussion comes in the wake of a release of a new survey conducted by the Pew Research Center and Project on Excellence in Journalism, finding that “news people especially national journalists are more liberal, and far less conservative, than the general public.”  Picking up on the “diversity” problem, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post quoted Rosenstiel as saying that “the growing proportion of self-identified liberals in the national media?and the fact that ‘conservatives are not very well represented’?is having an impact.”  Rosenstiel said, “This is something journalists should worry about.  Maybe diversity in the newsroom needs to mean more than ethnic and gender diversity.”

The survey found that there is a relatively small number of conservatives at national and local news organizations.  It found that, “Just 7% of national news people and 12% of local journalists describe themselves as conservatives, compared with a third of all Americans.”  The liberal bias is most apparent in coverage of social issues.  It found, for instance, that “…journalists are much more accepting of homosexuality than is the general public.”

Referring to the number of journalists in the survey who describe themselves as moderate rather than liberal, Thomas Bray of the Detroit News suggests that the Pew survey may substantially understate the degree of the bias.  He writes, “Many journalists, for obvious reasons, resist describing themselves as anything other than middle-of-the-road.  From long experience, however, I can attest that if you scratch the surface, you often find a set of views that can only be described as left of center on most major issues.”

Bray suggests that liberal media bias has affected the public’s view of Bush and the economy.  He notes a Gallup Poll of 1,000 Americans showed that 51 percent of Americans say the economy is getting worse, “even as gross domestic product, employment and other indicators continue to forge ahead.”  Bray says Bush may be able to overcome this bias, but that he “shouldn’t rely too heavily on the notion that voters will be able to sort things out based on what they read, see and hear in the press.”  And because the survey shows that many of the liberal reporters think they haven’t been hard enough on Bush, the bias could accelerate in the weeks ahead.

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