Print Story i'm in ur news media
By cam (Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 05:05:44 AM EST) (all tags)

hitting my target markets.

via troppo, an academic paper from the University of Chicago titled; What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers [pdf]

The method was to use words that have political message, ie death tax vs estate tax, and check their appearance in news media (but not op-ed pages). From the introduction:

Our first finding is that newspapersÂ’ actual slant is close to the profit-maximizing level on average. Consistent with Groseclose and Milyo (2005), we find that the average newspaperÂ’s language is similar to that of a left-of-center member of Congress.

However, we estimate that the profit-maximizing points are also left-of-center on average, perhaps because of demographic differences between readers and non-readers of newspapers, and we cannot statistically reject that the distributions of actual and ideal slant have the same mean.

So basically the news media is echo-chambering the political slant of their market, which happens to have the money to buy their goods (and attractive to their advertisers). This appears to be center-left political leanings that are the wealthier consumers of paper news media.

They also found that the owner of the news organisation does not make a difference on the slant. So the market is more important than news leadership in determining content.

This quote got posted on dailykos as proof of Fox News bias:

Fox News viewers supported George Bush over John Kerry by 88 percent to 7 percent. No demographic segment, other than Republicans, was as united in supporting Bush. Conservatives, white evangelical Christians, gun owners, and supporters of the Iraq war all gave Bush fewer votes than did regular Fox News viewers.

They have hit their target market perfectly. There was a market for Republican media and they have that market wrapped up. Fox News is obviously biased IMO, their target market demands that they are! If they aren't - they lose their market.

This isn't an issue IMO as their are plenty of other media outlets to get political news from. I am not in the target market obviously, but then again I am not in Air America's either.

It is also not unique to TV or Cable, the most popular form of blog is the echo-chamber where red-meat can be thrown for instant and unchallenging gratification; '$poli(thug|tard) is teh stoopid' or as johnny called it, "people violently and aggressively agreeing with each other"

I suspect it might be a mistake to attribute this slant to politics. The news media is a reflection of their audience, they don't guide so much, as reflect. When there was the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the news media was behind it all the way, but so was most of their audience.

Now there is Iraqi stalemate, Bush is in the 30% range and it is a case of all pile on Bush. When he had a 90% approval rating the media would not touch him, because the public didn't want them to; now, he is unpopular and the media will happily reflect that.

These are the same cycles I see on the celebrity magazines when I buy groceries. If Britney is popular the stories are positive, if she is unpopular, then they are negative. Often they are made up and fabricated to reflect what the public thinks. Rather than a barometer of politics, the media can be used as a good empirical marker to determine what the public is thinking as the media follows their market, not vice-versa.

Anyway; interesting empirical study of newspapers.


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There's a pretty good FP story in here by wiredog (4.00 / 2) #1 Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 06:01:39 AM EST
Perhaps something for K5. Or Slashdot, for that matter.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

this sounds good by garlic (4.00 / 2) #2 Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 07:37:28 AM EST
from your review. The part that's always hardest on media slant reports is figuring out what sort of slant the report itself might have. It can also be hard to try to eliminate your own personal slant in evaluating these claims. That's why I have more confidence in studies that aren't claiming a left or right slant of particular media, but focus more on corporate slant, or target audience feedback loop slant.

Husi probably does the best job of the online places I go of bringing different sides together for discussion (vs preaching to the choir, or just arguing with each other)

Get out of my news media! by duxup (4.00 / 2) #3 Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 10:28:21 AM EST
I was going to eat that!
the problem by aphrael (4.00 / 2) #4 Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 12:38:48 PM EST
the problem with fox news is this: if large segments of the population are getting their news exclusively or primarily from sources which match their preconceived notions, how is it possible to have a national dialogue including people with different preconcieved notions?

fox accelerates a trend towards insular communalism in which people don't communicate across community boundaries. that's not a good thing for america.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

I think it's a bit rich to blame Fox alone by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #5 Fri Mar 23, 2007 at 05:07:34 PM EST
The Guardian now has more readers in the US than in the UK, via the web. The fragmentation is everywhere.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
I don't blame fox alone, by aphrael (4.00 / 2) #6 Sat Mar 24, 2007 at 06:58:17 AM EST
they accelerate the problem, not cause it.

that said, they also revel in it, which no one else does.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Why is insular communalism... by leviramsey (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 09:23:25 AM EST

...not a good thing for America?

I'm racking my mind here. The most I can think of is that it would damage the nation's ability to fight imperial wars of aggression, but is that really a dramatic loss?

Could I be the next Lee Abrams?
[ Parent ]
like most liberal democracies by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #8 Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 09:48:36 AM EST
america works best on consensus. when there are large groups which basically are incapable of forming consensus, either (a) nothing happens, or (b) everyone ends up resentful and angry when something does happen.

cross-community resentment doesn't lead to good outcomes.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Again... by leviramsey (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 11:01:02 AM EST there necessarily anything wrong with nothing happening?

Could I be the next Lee Abrams?
[ Parent ]
it depends. by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #10 Mon Mar 26, 2007 at 01:12:40 PM EST
"nothing happening" in September of 2005 would have been a problem.

Bitter internecine divisions destroy liberal democracies, just as they destroy empires. I like my liberal democracy, and would prefer not to see it go away.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
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