Media Bias

Started by lkanneg, Apr 04, 2006, 08:36 AM

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I thought this was totally fascinating, and kind of relevant. (On a side note, I know nothing at all about UK newspapers or news reporting agencies.)

I Agree With You, Completely
Honest. Just read my piece.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Monday, April 3, 2006, at 7:28 PM ET

Not really. I scarcely know you! You could be anybody clicking his way through Web pages. But if my headline suckered you into reading this column, you just conformed to the expectations of news-media consumers held by University of Chicago scholars Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro.

In a new, math-heavy paper titled "Media Bias and Reputation," the two economists leapfrog over the usual analysis about the media's liberalness or conservativeness to construct a new model of media bias. They assume, logically enough, that media firms seek to establish reputations as purveyors of accurate information because such reputations increase demand for their products.

If news consumers can't easily evaluate the quality of a news story, they will tend to grade it based on their previous observations of the media outlet. No surprises so far. But the article, which will appear in the April issue of the Journal of Political Economy, goes on to present findings that are sure to appall and delight students of press bias. Gentzkow and Shapiro find that:

Continue Article



1) If a media outlet cares about its reputation for accuracy, it will be reluctant to report anything that counters the audiences' existing beliefs because such stories will tend to erode the company's standing. Newspapers and news programs have a visible incentive to "distort information to make it conform with consumers' prior beliefs."

2) The media can't satisfy their audiences by merely reporting what their audience wants to hear. If alternative sources of information prove that a news organization has distorted the news, the organization will suffer a loss of reputation, and hence of profit. The authors predict more bias in stories where the outcomes aren't realized for some time (foreign war reporting, for example) and less bias where the outcomes are immediately apparent (a weather forecast or a sports score). Indeed, almost nobody accuses the New York Times or Fox News Channel of slanting their weather reports.

3) Less bias occurs when competition produces a healthy tension between a news organization's desire to conform to audience expectations and maintaining its reputation.

The Gentzkow-Shapiro model helps explain Fox News Channel's success. Because folks tend to become more politically conservative as they age, and because older folks spend more time in front of their televisions than young folks, it stands to reason that the first network to coddle this underserved audience would profit. Citing a 2002 Pew Research Center for the People survey, the authors note that 30 percent of respondents who identified themselves as conservatives said they believed all or most of what Fox says, while only 15 percent of self-identified liberals believed the same. Meanwhile, 35 percent of liberals believe all or most of whet they hear on NPR, while less than 20 percent of conservatives do.

The authors cite other examples supporting their thesis. CNN, like the other networks, flew a flag logo on the screen after 9/11. However, it dropped the logo from its CNN International channel, which the company beams to non-U.S. audiences. Said the network's president, our audience "expects us to have a non-U.S. viewpoint." A 1992 analysis of newspaper readers found that only 2 percent of respondents categorized their political views as "very distant" from those of their primary newspaper. Local sports columnists may favor local teams, but not when making pregame predictions.

Gentzkow and Shapiro could have easily included Daniel Okrent's controversial--but correct--assessment of the New York Times as a liberal newspaper. You may recall how Okrent, the Times' first public editor, infuriated many on the paper's staff in his July 25, 2004, column when he indicted the paper on several counts of pandering to its readers' expectations with its advocacy journalism. He wrote "if you think the Times plays it straight down the middle" on the social issues--gay rights, gun control, abortion, and environmental regulation--"you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed." The Times presents "the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading," he wrote, when coverage that analyzed the effects of gay marriage was in order. The paper's cheerleading, one would extrapolate from Genztkow and Shapiro, may delight the paper's 1.1 million circulation, but at what cost?

Gentzkow and Shapiro end their paper with a pair of policy recommendations based on their ideas about competition. Domestically, they say the best check on bias is a competitive media market, by which they mean limits on media ownership. Overseas, they counsel the U.S. government to combat alleged anti-Americanism in the media by stimulating competition--not with demands, for example, that Al Jazeera's sponsor, the emir of Qatar, censor his network.

The authors' great achievement is that they write intelligently about press bias without descending into a conversation-killing discussion of "objective" and "subjective" journalism. That said, I wish they'd tested their theory a bit more rigorously by applying it to the British press, which is both competitive and excessively partisan. Despite the existence of the trans-Atlantic-flavored Economist and Financial Times, the four leading papers on the British newsstand--the Times, the Independent, the Guardian, and the Telegraph--contradict the Gentzkow-Shapiro thesis. Over there, competition has spawned newspapers whose major occupation is to provide a daily reaffirmation of one's worldview.


Have I violated your trust with my trick headline? Send condemnations via e-mail to [email protected]. (E-mail may be quoted unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)
quot;Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
--Eleanor Roosevelt

"Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade."
-- Constance Baker Motley

"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."
--Janis Joplin


What I want to know is : how is it the BBC can be so blatantly pro-feminist and get away with it, despite backlash after backlash from their audiences who keep saying "why are you so pro-feminist?".   Seems they are not listening to their audience.


What I want to know is : how is it the BBC can be so blatantly pro-feminist and get away with it, despite backlash after backlash from their audiences who keep saying "why are you so pro-feminist?". Seems they are not listening to their audience.

The licence fee?

Here in the Far East we get BBC World - equally feministing but no licence fees - for propaganda use only. News/business/weather reports of interest to expats are interspersed with transparent femiprop.

Ooops, sorry IMHO, you're in Bangkok so you know already.
'm an asylum seeker. Don't send me back.


I have seen the bias,and it is pro-feminist-anti male. Drive time is so much more peaceful with CDs than talk radio, breakfast is eaten while reading anything besides news rags, and the tv is programmed to bypass network stations and CATV news networks. I never had a blood pressure problem, but if I did, these actions would make my doctor happy.
Explaining misandry to a feminist is like explaining "wet" to a fish.


Michelle Malkin just did an expose' on a proposed future Dateline piece.  It'll be funny if some radio stations start talking about the upcoming Dateline piece before filming is complete...  This is long, but her blog doesn't provide any archive link to that article and scrolls, so here is the whole thing:

By Michelle Malkin April 04, 2006 08:25 AM
***update: a reader sends another message notifying Muslim activists that (NASCAR) taping will take place April 8...see below***

A source who monitors political e-mail lists sent me an intriguing message disseminated last week, which involved an apparent Dateline NBC solicitation to Muslim groups. Check this out:
    Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2006 13:05:54 -0800 (PST)
    From: Subject: Looking for Muslim Males to participate in NBC Dateline Segment


I hope everyone is doing well.

I have been talking with a producer of the NBC Dateline show and he is in the process of filming a piece on anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination in the USA. They are looking for some Muslim male candidates for their show who would be willing to go to non-Muslim gatherings and see if they attract any
discriminatory comments or actions while being filmed.

They recently taped two turbaned Sikh men attending a football game in Arizona to see how people would treat them. They set them up with hidden microphones and cameras, etc.

They want to do the same thing 2 or 3 other times (in various parts of the USA) with one or two Muslim men in each setting. They are looking for men who actually "look Muslim". They want a guy with no foreign accent whatsoever, a good thick beard, an outgoing personality, and someone willing to wear a kufi/skullcap during the filming.

They also want someone who is fairly well accomplished and has contributed to American society at large in some meaningful way.

That said, I'm urgently looking for someone who can be filmed this April 1st weekend at a Nascar event (and other smaller events) in Virginia. NBC is willing to fly in someone and cover their weekend expenses. The filming would take place all day on Saturday and Sunday.

We already have a hijabi sister who will be filmed there but a Muslim is also needed to join her. I also need candidates for the other filming segments which will take place in the following weeks.

A few weeks later, NBC will fly all the filmed participants to New York City to interview them as a group about their experience and thoughts on discrimination they've faced in America, especially in light of the times we live in (war on terror, 9-11, etc.). The show, if approved by NBC (highly likely), is expected to air sometime this summer.

What I need from interested candidates is an email with an attached clear photograph, a resume, and contact information. I also need basic information such as age, ethnic background, accomplishments, etc.

The sooner I can get this the better and please don't make emails too long. I will then submit a group of candidates to NBC so they can choose the people for the show.

Please forward this to all Muslim lists you can. Because of the upcoming filming in Virginia, this is pretty time-sensitive. My contact information is below.


Tarek El-Messidi[/list]  Catch that? The apparent "sting" involves targeting Nascar and other sporting events. 'Cause that's presumably where the fair and balanced NBC news staff thinks all the bigots are...
Keep an eye on Dateline NBC here.
Send your questions to dateline @
Update: Reader H. e-mails the following notice from an e-mail list...
    A couple of days ago, I sent out the email below regarding the NBC Dateline producer looking for Muslim males to be filmed. Alhamdulillah, I've been flooded with responses that will be forwarded to them soon. I just wanted to send an update that they decided to postpone the filming at the NASCAR event by one weekend (until April 8th). It's still not too late to submit your information but the sooner, the better.
    Also, a couple of sisters have inquired about submitting info. While NBC did mention that they prefer male candidates (because they feel that people are less likely to show discrimination to a woman out of courtesy), I will also forward emails I receive from sisters. They may consider filming another hijabi sister if she's very qualified for the role. Please read the initial email I sent below about what to submit.
    Again, please forward this out to as many email lists as possible.
    Tarek El-Messidi
    Email: tarek @

Sir Percy

This is reminiscent of the scandal that broke out in the UK when a TV journalist (channel?) gathered Iraqi children together and paid  them to play on a burned out tank so she could film them. She was castigating the Americans for leaving unsafe war materials lying around causing danger to children who might play on them. The tank was usually avoided by the children it turned out as they were scared of it.
vil, like misery, is Protean, and never greater than when committed in the name of 'right'. To commit evil when they are convinced they are doing 'good', is one of the greatest of pleasures known to a feminist.


SYG is like a newspaper. It promotes the viewpoint that we already have. Men's News Daily does that too.

The beauty of internet news gathering is that news gathering sites can pander to very small slices of public opinion. That is why the internet will out compete the newspapers. Already, newspaper circulation is dropping.

I hardly ever read my local paper, because I don't agree with it. I come here, because this site supports my existing beliefs.
Men's Movie Guide:   The Healing Tomb:


Fascinating. Good catch ikanneg.

I think most of us have a habit of reading those authors who most closely match our own political viewpoint. To me, this is bad thinking. We should (and I try to) read myriad viewpoints, filter those viewpoints and arrive at something which comes close to the truth.

ay what you mean: Mean what you say.

dr e

The human brain is not objective.  It is biased and will automatically let in information that conforms with its present beliefs and will exlude information that does not.  This gives the status quo a huge head start and advantage in maintaining myths that most people incorrectly believe to be true.  Domestic violence is a good example of how this works.  The media feeds the less than factual "party line" at least partly because it is in their best interest.  Interesting article.
Contact dr e  Lifeboats for the ladies and children, icy waters for the men.  Women have rights and men have responsibilties.

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