Thursday, March 27, 2008

Do Journalists Generally Swing to the Left?

Kiwiblog reports on the political leanings of American journalists.

The Pew State of the Media annual report has an interesting section on how journalists descibe their political leanings compared to the population.

  • Conservatives - 8% of journalists vs 36% of US population
  • Liberals - 32% of journalists vs 19% of US population

This explains the New York Times et al.

I wonder what a similar survey would show in Britain. A couple of years ago the Political Studies Association did a survey of the political leanings of their members. I think only 15% admitted to being Conservatives. I'll put my head on the block now and guess that if you did a survey of all political journalists in the UK you'd find about a quarter to a third would say they were on the right.


Anonymous said...

The trick, of course, for political journalists is to decide when is the right moment to espouse either your liberal tendencies or conversely your conservative tendencies.

If you jump too late as it becomes increasingly possible that the Consrvative Party will form the next government you risk being denied close access to the centre of power but if you jump too soon and Labour retain power then you risk being frozen out.

It's probably still too early to predict that Cameron will be in No10 after the next election but just as there was a migration away from the Conservatives from the mid 1990's so it appears the same is now happening with Labour with the tone of some journalists subtly changing from that they adopted in the period 1995 - 2006.

I hesitate to use of the analogy of rats and sinking ships but it's interesting

Anonymous said...

Is there a republican/right leaning newspaper in America? All I can find are left leaning.

Man in a Shed said...

Might this, by any chance, be worse at a public sector organisation like the BBC ?

It would also explain the MSM's failure to hold the current government to account.

Anonymous said...

Conservatives are unthinking ie "What we have is good" - I dont need to think about it so are unlikely to becoem journalists who's job is to ask questions.

What would be more interesting is a survey of people who own the media and therefore control it Iain.

Anonymous said...

There's the Washington Times (very right wing) and the Wall Street Journal. Most newspapers have conservative syndicated columnists like Krauthammer or one of the talk show hosts.

Read my blog on the Tanya Byron story.

Paul Linford said...

It depends who is in power. When I worked in local newspapers in the late 80s it was hard to find any journalist who admitted to being a Tory. It was a similar story at Westminster in the mid-90s when the entire Lobby was busy sucking up to Alastair Campbell. But I would guess there are more Cameroonies than Brownies there now.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was obligatory for anyone in the meeja to be a member of a radical extremist far left political organisation and espouse views and opinions that would make Beria, Marx, Lenin, Engels, Trotsky, Mao, Kim-il Jong and Stalin look like captialist running dogs and lickspittles.

High time that the meeja was forced to adopt a neutral stance and report the news objectively, fairly and give all political hues equal space. I am irritated that some-one like Murdoch, holding an American passport, having traded his Aussie one so that he could circumvent US laws on ownership, can have such an impact on our individual lives by holding governments to ransom.
If he wants to influence our lives he should bloody well stand for office, and the same goes for that irritating wretched woman Polly Toynbee and the rest of her ilk.
Rats and ships just does not cut the mot juste.

Ross said...

"Is there a republican/right leaning newspaper in America?"

The Wall Street Journal is about the only major one, the New York Sun is worth a look too.

It is surprising considering that we are often told how right wing the USA is, that there is no major equivalent of the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail. It's probably partly to do with most papers in the US being city monopolies who don't need to compete with one another.

There was a survey of journalists before the 1996 election which found that over 90% of them supported Clinton over Dole.

Johnny Norfolk said...

The BBC must be 100% left /liberal. You never have any right wing comments from anyone at the BBC. I would love to hear some.

Yak40 said...

Going strictly by memory, a poll of (so called) journalists here in the US after the 2000 election showed approx 70% admitting they were for Gore.
It was exemplified nicely on election night by one of the big "anchor" types announcing a Democrat win in one state by saying "We've got another one .." or something like that !

As regards rightish papers, well of course there's not really a national press like in the UK but some local papers of some size aren't in the left's bag e.g Washington Times, Chicago Tribune. Even the LA Times is trying to be a little more even handed.

Problem is, so many papers use agency pieces as filler and many of those are very biased, especially AP.

Man in a Shed said...

To Mike Small - there's been precious little evidence of journalists asking questions in the first seven years of their New Labour project - only the last of Blair's wars seems to have woken anyone up.

There is also a problem with the over whelming arts background of journalists. People who have problem with a evidence based reality are inevitably going to lean towards the selfish fantasy of the left.

Anonymous said...

"I'll put my head on the block now and guess that if you did a survey of all political journalists in the UK you'd find about a quarter to a third would say they were on the right."

The Right or what Cameron calls the right?

Nich Starling said...

You could equally argue that the judiciary is made up of more Conservatives or that business is made up or more Conservaties. Someone it has to all balance out, if not we'd need quotas.

Unsworth said...

And are all journalists swingers?

Geezer said...

Journos are usually the work-shy, couldn't/wouldn't do a proper job, type of a person.
Therefore, the work mindset matches a left-wing political mindset perfectly.
Well-educated, right of centre, types are more likely to seek a stable career option, rather than the flaky media world. The media is also the type of industry that allows people to immerse themselves in it, as a lifestyle choice and not just a job or career. So a cloud-cuckoo land, never grown out of being a student, type leftie, will be able to cut themselves off from the reality of ordinary life and surround themselves with like-minded people who talk the same bollocks all the time. A real world job, would give 'em a nasty shock and force them to grow-up. So instead they choose to produce output for the mass-media and tell everyone what they think they should be thinking, instead of actually empathising with their audience and talking about stuff that they are actually thinking about. (BBC do this, most noticeably)

It is also a very popular profession for would-be politicos (who don't want the bother of getting elected) to get unelected influence, possibly more influential than the elected politicians, but without the public throwing them out when they've had enough.
The left have been dependent on that type of cultural revolution and insidious messaging for decades, as they struggle electorally (unless the lie through their teeth like NuLab).
Your average Oxbridge Lefty (if not going into politics or the public sector) will want to get into some part of the media, The BBC is always very popular with them, and because they have been so successful in getting into the media, lots more get recruited deliberately by these people, to keep the purity of thought within these organisations. So you get a dominance of the left in the mass media and news. Although we have a supposedly right-wing dominated national press in this country, they have been very happy to tell people to vote Labour for the past three elections and be conduits of Labour spin. I know it is the wishes of the proprietors, that govern editorial bias, but Labour's courting of the media, seemed so effortless.
I very much doubt if there are many genuine big C conservatives in the national news media. The likes if Hitchens and Janet Daley, for example have left-wing backgrounds, yet claim to be the voice of conservative Britain. Funny, I know plenty of conservatives, and none of them has ever flirted with left-wing politics!
An industry where there is so much job insecurity, is going to breed snivelling crack-whores, who don't mind who they work for or what they produce, as long as it keeps them employed and in the public eye. Most Journos at the Daily Mail, would probably much prefer to be working at the Guardian.

Anonymous said...

The policies of the Conservative Party would probably be considered "left wing" by the same standards so not sure if this is relevant.

asquith said...

Don't be daft, Iain. The overwhelming majority of newapaper readers, if they take only the Mail, Sun or Express, will never read any kind of progressive sentiment. When you consider that the Mirror is basically populist, authoritarian leftist, it too is utterly closed to liberalism.

Very few people read the Guardian, Independent and New Statesman, regrettably. For the majority, a nuanced attitude is too much to handle and they want something knee-jerk and bigoted.

Anonymous said...

for a second there Asquith I thought you were being serious until you mentioned The Indy and "nuanced" together.

LOL as they say

Anonymous said...

Speaking of bias there is a very interesting article in this week's New Scientist (of all places) of the Bradley/reverse Bradley effect in the Obama/Hillary contest. There is a striking graphp showing that both effects are significant in predominately white/black states. The interesting thing is that they dont think it is for th usual reasons ie. white people not wanting to appear racist as both candidates are popular amongst democrats and voting for a black man/white woman is similar. They believe the real reason is because the pollsters have failed to correctly guage the likilihood of the respondent actually voting. So in white states more black people voted than they thought and in white states more white people voted.

asquith said...

1:10pm, have you ever read a Bruce Anderson column?

Anonymous said...

asquith said...

"1:10pm, have you ever read a Bruce Anderson column?"

Don't know if 1:10 has but I have. They're always deeply boring and pompous but rarely say anything.

You really, really like yourself don't you asquith?

asquith said...

No, I'm consumed by self-loathing. This is my unsuccessful attempt to hide it :)