Study: journalists report think tank leanings selectively
January 2, 2014 Leave a comment
Reason.com recently highlighted a study in the Journal of Media Economics which suggests selective media bias in reporting think tank leanings:
Leading news outlets were 14 times more likely to identify the Heritage Foundation as conservative than they were to categorize the Brookings Institution as liberal, reports a new study in the Journal of Media Economics. The study, conducted by the Department of Justice economist Wayne Dunham, analyzed 25,000 news articles from six large daily newspapers and the Associated Press over the past couple of decades.
Reason correspondent Ronald Bailey points out the implicit bias in this lopsided ideological identification. It seems reasonable to me that reminding readers of a source’s ideological affiliation tends to make them dismissive of that source. It follows then that liberal think tanks get less scrutiny than conservative and libertarian ones.
Free societies rely on some semblance of balance and objectivity from the press. It won’t help for government to intervene, as with the Fairness Doctrine. Rather, news consumers should signal their displeasure to the editorial boards. To that end, it would be good to know which major papers Dunham examined. If the report is accurate, then some of America’s most influential journalists need to explain, or else cop to, their own bias.