Why Media Bias is Complicated

If you want to ever get involved in a no-win scenario argument about the media, start talking about media bias.  Critics on both the right and the left maintain that there is either a liberal or a conservative bias in the media’s coverage of the news. Journalist and author Richard Reeves notes that for each example of a bias in one direction, there is an example of bias in the opposite direction. Conservatives point out that there are disproportionate numbers of liberals working as reporters. Liberals argue that large corporations own the media and that they slant the news in favor of industry and business.

And you know what? They’re both (to a degree) correct.

And we can see this playing out during the 2014 election that’s going to a vote next week.

As reported on the ever excellent media criticism site JimRomenesko.com:

The owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com tells readers that his media outlets won’t be making a governor’s race endorsement this year. What Gerry Lenfest fails to disclose is that he gave $250,000 to Gov. Tom Corbett’s campaign. One of his journalists writes in an email: “Given Lenfest’s history of Corbett donations and the likelihood that the Inquirer’s … left-leaning editorial board (and certainly the Daily News’) would have endorsed [challenger Tom] Wolf, it looks really, really bad.” 

This is absolutely a perfect example of this.  You have a newspapers with editorial boards that lean left, and an owner who leans right.  The owner likely anticipates an endorsement from his papers he would disagree with, so he decides his papers won’t endorse anyone.

When you go to look at the papers, you don’t see the conservative candidate being endorsed, so a reader might assume that there is no conservative bias at play, but in fact it is the owner’s conservatism that may be keeping the paper from endorsing the more liberal candidate.

So, does this mean there is a huge conservative bias to the news? 

Not really.

What it means is that there are multiple forces working to shape how news and opinion are presented through our media that defy a simple attack of liberal/conservative bias.

This entry was posted in Chapter 2, Chapter 3 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *