Saturday, November 06, 2010

Survey on News Bias

With the mid-term election coming to close, it seems traditional media (TV, newspaper, magazine) has continued to be influential. They also continue to be biased. These two realities can be a problem, especially if we aren't aware of them. If you would please take a minute and label each news source by your perceived bias, not what you think most people will say. If you can't answer some, please feel free to leave them blank. I will post the results in one week. Your participation is greatly appreciated.


*The survey has been closed. Here are the results*


  1. Amike3:26 PM

    Journalism is extremely biased, but it's not a left- or right-wing bias. Rather, journalism is biased towards:

    a) sensationalism--i.e. conveying the message that there's an Exciting Controversy;

    b) telling people what they want to hear.

    Both of those are in keeping with the fact that the news media is a business--the goal is to sell as many papers or draw as many viewers or get as many web hits as possible. So you talk about the stories your audience is already interested in, you reinforce their preexisting assumptions about the way the world is and how individual people behave and interact with each other, you make every story out to be a fight, and for God's sake you NEVER say anything that'll make them uncomfortable, 'cause then they'll just find another outlet that gives them exactly what they want.

    To characterize media bias as left- or right-wing is missing 90 percent of what media bias is. Not 100 percent, mind you--I know as a part-time journalist, I've consciously written stories so as to suggest a particular point (though I've also consciously written stories to emphasize Controversy over an issue where I thought the right answer was pretty damn obvious)--but definitely 90 percent.

    I personally wouldn't even characterize Fox News as "conservative," necessarily--so much as they know who their audience is, and they tell that audience what it wants to hear.

  2. Amike3:30 PM

    (My "bias" story, btw, was a piece about the NC Pride Festival and what Chapel Hill is doing to be a welcoming and inclusive community. The piece implied that that was a good thing. I regret nothing.)

  3. I agree, but those two reasons often lead to either a conservative or liberal bias and knowing which can help us filter appropriately.

  4. Well said, Amike. Hear, hear.

  5. Maybe the follow up survey should be how many of these channels/outlets do you actually watch, and how often. I have a inkling that people that most decisions aren't made (obviously not by the readers of your blog ;) ) by actual engagement, but what someone on another channel said about another news source.

    I aggregate most of my news feeds and read different sections from different physical papers throughout the day, which helps me not really associate the bias with the entity, but the writer.

  6. Interesting Topher. I feel similarly because I get most of my news from blogs so I don't know much about real news sources.

  7. Media bias is more complex than just "liberal" or "conservative". Media outlets are also greatly influenced by the larger corporations that own them.

  8. Certainly, but I think those biases still exist and are important to be aware of.

  9. I responded to the survey for the media-outlets I've seen or read to some extent. I didn't choose "Extreme Conservative" or "Extreme Liberal" for any of them, because I think my personal biases get in the way there. The WSJ is certainly conservative, but is it extremely conservative? The NYTimes is liberal, but is it extremely liberal? I don't feel I can answer these questions with much rigor.

    Nearly all, if not all, news sources have some degree of bias. Newspapers endorse candidates, after all. In England and Europe, many papers have party affiliations. This requires one to read the news critically, which may be, um, problematic for some individuals.


You are the reason why I do not write privately. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or not.