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Journalists at national media outlets are more liberal and less conservative than nine years ago, and while in 1995 they were upset that the media were too critical of President Clinton, they are now disturbed that the media are going too easy on President Bush, a just-released survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found. Five times more national outlet journalists identify themselves as liberal, 34 percent, than conservative, a mere 7 percent. The poll also discovered that while the reporters, editors, producers and executives have a great deal of trouble naming a "liberal" news outlet, they had no problem seeing a "conservative" outlet, with an incredible 69 percent readily naming the Fox News Channel.
Pew compared this yearˇ¦s poll of 547 journalists around the nation, 247 of them at national-level outlets, to the results of a similar survey conducted by the group, then-known as the Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press, in 1995. This year they discovered 54% of national journalists described themselves as "moderates," down from 64 percent in 1995, as "the percentage identifying themselves as liberal has increased from 1995: 34% of national journalists describe themselves as liberals, compared with 22% nine years ago....More striking is the relatively small minority of journalists who think of themselves as politically conservative" at just 7 percent amongst national journalists, but that's a surge from an even more piddling 4 percent in 1995. "As the case a decade ago," Pew noted, "the journalists as a group are much less conservative than the general public (33% conservative)."
And those in the pipeline for national jobs are trending liberal too, with 23 percent of local journalists identifying themselves as liberal, "up from 14% in 1995," and only 12 percent calling themselves conservative.
Since those surveyed must realize how the left-wing tilt of their profession would be used by conservative media critics, it's a safe bet to assume that a significant number of actual liberals called themselves moderates.
A mere 8 percent of the national press believe the media are being "too critical" of President Bush, compared to three times more, 24 percent, who think the media are "not critical enough." Back in 1995, as recounted in the MRC's June, 1995 edition of MediaWatch, Times Mirror determined that just two percent thought the press had given "too much" coverage to Clinton administration achievements, compared to 48 percent to saw "too little" on Clinton's achievements. The remaining 49 percent called coverage "about right."
Given the anti-Bush attitudes so many in the media, it's no surprise that "they express considerably less confidence in the political judgment of the American public than they did five years ago. Since 1999, the percentage saying they have a great deal of confidence in the public's election choices has fallen from 52% to 31% in the national sample of journalists."
The journalists did see ideology at one outlet: FNC. Pew explained: "The single news outlet that strikes most journalists as taking a particular ideological stance -- either liberal or conservative -- is Fox News Channel. Among national journalists, more than twice as many could identify a daily news organization that they think is 'especially conservative in its coverage' than one they believe is 'especially liberal' (82% vs. 38%). And Fox has by far the highest profile as a conservative news organization; it was cited unprompted by 69% of national journalists. The New York Times was most often mentioned as the national daily news organization that takes a decidedly liberal point of view, but only by 20% of the national sample."
Asked, "Can you think of any news organizations that are especially liberal?" only two percent each listed CNN or ABC or CBS or NPR. One percent named NBC. On the conservative side, after FNC, 9 percent listed the Washington Times and 8 percent the Wall Street Journal.
The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey, conducted as part of a joint project with the Project for Excellence in Journalism, was "based on interviews with 547 journalists and news media executives by telephone and online. The same questionnaire was used for both modes. The interviews were completed from March 10, 2004 through April 20, 2004."
The "media organizations sampled" for the 247 people interviewed in the "national media" component:
-- Television Networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MSNBC, FOX Cable News, Telemundo, Univision.
-- Chains with Washington, D.C. Bureaus: Gannett, Cox, Hearst.
-- Radio: Associated Press Radio, ABC Radio Networks, CBS Radio Networks, Westwood One, Black Radio Network, National Public Radio.
-- Newspapers: Arizona Republic, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, Houston Chronicle, Long Island Newsday, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, New York Daily News, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post.
-- Magazines: Newsweek, Time, U.S. News & World Report.
For the full report titled, "Bottom-Line Pressures Now Hurting Coverage, Say Journalists; Press Going Too Easy on Bush," with links to more detailed sub-sections and a PDF of the questionnaire, go to: people-press.org
Some excerpts from the Pew report released on Sunday:
Fox's Outsized Impact
Most national and local journalists do not believe any national daily news organization is "especially liberal" in its news coverage. Roughly six-in-ten in both groups (62% national/59% local) say no national daily news organization strikes them as particularly liberal in its coverage. Among the minority that names a specific news organization as being especially liberal, the New York Times was mentioned most frequently (20% national/17% local).
By contrast, solid majorities of both national and local journalists say there is an organization that they think is especially conservative and for most the organization that comes to mind is Fox News Channel. Fully 69% of national journalists cited Fox News Channel as especially conservative in its coverage. Fewer local journalists (42%) mentioned Fox; still, a much higher percentage of local journalists named Fox than any other single news organization, conservative or liberal.
Roughly two-thirds of self-described conservatives (68%) could identify a specific news organization that is especially liberal, and the same number (68%) could name a news organization that is "especially conservative." But moderates and liberals could identify conservative news organizations far more often than liberal ones. Roughly three-quarters of liberals (74%) and a majority of moderates (56%) say they couldn't think of any news organization that is especially liberal.
END of Excerpt
For that section: people-press.org
IV. Values and the Press
Journalists at national and local news organizations are notably different from the general public in their ideology and attitudes toward political and social issues. Most national and local journalists, as well as a plurality of Americans (41%), describe themselves as political moderates. But news people -- especially national journalists -- are more liberal, and far less conservative, than the general public.
About a third of national journalists (34%) and somewhat fewer local journalists (23%) describe themselves as liberals; that compares with 19% of the public in a May survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. Moreover, there is a relatively small number of conservatives at national and local news organizations. Just 7% of national news people and 12% of local journalists describe themselves as conservatives, compared with a third of all Americans.
END of Excerpt
For that section: people-press.org
The questions about personal political views come at the end of the survey, starting with question #27. For a PDF of the full questionnaire: people-press.org
Most major newspapers today (Monday) should have an article on the Pew numbers, but I'll plug just the one in the Boston Globe by Mark Jurkowitz, "Press feels it's gone easy on Bush," which quoted me. An excerpt:
"What you're seeing is a profession that is majority moderate, but more liberal than conservative. What's different here is that the trend line is more liberal," says Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "We clearly need to think about getting more conservatives in the newsroom."
"It confirms our fears that the mainstream media are not getting less liberal," said Brent Baker, vice president of the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog group. One explanation, Baker added, is that journalism "inherently attracts people unhappy with society's...status quo [who] still see the news media as a vehicle to change society."
While the poll may fuel longstanding conservative claims that there is a liberal bias in the media, it also found strong sentiment among journalists that their profession has been too soft on Bush....