There are a number of issues that I’d like to address in Sari’s piece,"Re: Is the media politically biased?" While she is clearly an educated member of the media, there are many overarching issues she touches upon without truly delving into the heart of the matter. Take this for instance:
"Reporters and their editors aren’t news machines. They are people with life experiences and feelings, and of course they have opinions."
Exactly; this is the same point critics make when addressing bias. It’s impossible for an individual, no matter what field they are in, to extract their own personal inclinations from their work — especially reporters. Whether it is a reporter or an editor, human nature doesn’t enable journalists to be completely non-partisan.
And as far as the New York Times goes — it’s pointed toward the left, indefinitely. The absence of such bias at the Times should no longer even be a question (nor should it be when discussing FOX News). The only individuals who claim that the Times does a good job at remaining objective are typically liberal.
Their general agreement with the Op-Ed section, in particular, blinds them (as does the political agreement that many conservatives find when watching FOX) from recognizing the partisan nature of the paper.
Aside from that rant and moving back toward bias in general, there’s plenty to say. Reporters typically find leads and chase them; they encounter ideas which later lead to viable stories. Throughout the entire process they engage in "framing" (setting up the story from start to finish, which involves a number of stages).
The problem is that journalists, like doctors, lawyers and other professionals, have opinions. While it may be respectable for these individuals to withhold these opinions to the best of their ability, each and every person develops a window through which they view the world. This window becomes the way in which these individuals see issues — socially, politically and in every other associated aspect. And yes, we’ve all got our own "personal" windows.
Liberals and conservatives see the world through radically different window frames. So, while attempting to develop a news story, a conservative may look for entirely different aspects than a liberal would or vice-versa. Just look at the political realm. Nancy Pelosi and George W. Bush look at the same facts — but they come to radically different conclusions.
When discussing bias it is best that one consults statistics. Some of the only viable findings we have are the admitted political affiliations of national and local journalists. On the national plane, half of journalists claim to be moderate. With this in mind, the remaining half is comprised of many, many more liberals than it is conservatives (sometimes by a difference of over 20 percentage points).
This difference proves that news stories, at the least, will be framed more frequently by liberals. It’s an imbalance that news rooms should aim to re-kilter, and frankly it puts a spin (to some degree) on the overall content being released (unless, of course, you’re reading the Times or watching FOX — where bias is an open plane for the world to see).
I will soon start publishing excerpts of my award-winning paper on this subject matter. Stay tuned.