Monday, May 24, 2004
That liberal media: The Pew Center for the People and the Press has released its latest survey of the American media and revealed the shocking fact that the media is far more liberal than the general public.
In fact, the press is even more liberal than it admits to being. The ideological classification in the survey is a self-assessment, not derived from rating their views on a series of issues. Only 7 percent of the national press describes themselves as conservative, versus 34 percent identifying themselves as liberals and 54 percent as moderates.
However, when it comes to social issues, the moderates, and quite a few of the conservatives, reveal their views to be much farther to the left.
The problem is that we base our political beliefs largely as it is relative to people we know or see on television. Most journalists look around the newsroom and can point out the Vietnam-era protester/Marxist/Leninist and say to themselves: "Well, that guy's more liberal than I am." Then they watch television and they see Tom DeLay or Jesse Helms and think: "I'm definitely not a conservative." Therefore, the only thing left is to label oneself a moderate.
This may work relatively well for determining one's place on the political spectrum, but it works less well for social views. The survey showed that social conservatives are few and far between in the major media newsrooms.
Many newspapers hold an annual "Time-out for Diversity and Accuracy," to discuss those issues. The event is promoted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Not that every type of diversity can be listed, but what is missing from the following list?
We define diversity as widely as possible - including, for example, age, ethnicity, economics, geography, sexual orientation, education and language.
Hint: Where do most Americans spend their Sunday mornings?
Newspapers are always striving to accurately reflect their communities, as evidenced by surveys like this one by the Knight Foundation. The press would be well-advised to finally embrace the Pew survey and make an effort to diversify the ideology in their newsrooms.
But don't hold your breath.