Tuesday, September 18, 2007

conservative bias in newspaper op-eds

The C-J reported on a "Media Matters for America" report on potential media bias in the op-ed pieces published in American newspapers. Interesting and somewhat provocative, they find a conservative media bias within op-ed pieces. (Of course, this says nothing about the editorialists and the news coverage!)

The data seem to be based on the percentage of newspapers rather than the numbers of readers. Perhaps the MMA report covers this, but the C-J does not tell us the extent to which the two measures are correlated. For example, it might be that the fewer, larger, urban papers have a more liberal bent-- while the more numerous, smaller, suburban/rural papers have a more conservative bent. It'd be interesting to see both numbers reported.

George Will's column runs in more newspapers than any writer in the nation, according to a new study by a liberal media watchdog group that concludes conservative voices such as his dominate editorial pages.

Will's syndicated column runs at least once a month in 368 newspapers with more than 26 million in total circulation...

[Paul Waldman's] group found that 60 percent of the daily newspapers print more conservative syndicated columnists each week than liberals. Twenty percent of the papers are dominated by liberals and 20 percent are balanced. Media Matters had no information on local columnists.

It's similar to how conservative talk radio voices dominate, although to a much more limited extent.

In case you're interested in the Top Ten...

The five most popular columnists include another conservative, Kathleen Parker, and two liberals, Ellen Goodman and Leonard Pitts Jr. David Broder of The Washington Post, who is third, isn't assigned an ideology by Media Matters.

The top 10 is rounded out by Cal Thomas (conservative), Charles Krauthammer (conservative) and three from The New York Times: Thomas L. Friedman (liberal), Maureen Dowd (liberal) and David Brooks (conservative).

One could quibble with their simple liberal/conservative categorization. There are many different types of each; some of these writers are more libertarian than conservative; and I would never feel comfortable trying to put Thomas Friedman in such a box. But ok...


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