Both in Europe and America the press tends to be more progressive, or leftist, than the rest of the population. In America, conservatives have been very good at mounting a counterattack on the liberal media, but the liberal media still has the upper hand. The country votes republican, the media overall is democratic. Why is this the case? To me this is simply a function of income. Start giving journalists investment banking salaries and they would certainly write more conservative articles! As it is they make very little money, and empathize with other people who do as well.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter:

No Comments

Lance Knobel on September 27, 2005  · 

You shouldn’t be so quick to accept that US media is, in fact, liberal. While many, even most US journalists may vote Democratic, that doesn’t make their journalism liberal by any means.

Is it possible to conceive of a media that could give George Bush an easier time than the US media between 2000 and 2005 (until Katrina)? There has been virtually no questioning of his competence or the competence of his administration. No vigorous questioning of the motives behind going to war (in stark contrast to the very difficult time Tony Blair has been given by the UK media — on left and right).

And to your point on empathizing with people who have little money, the aftermath of Katrina has revealed how poorly US media has covered poverty in America.

So what makes it a liberal media?

3.0 rating

Antoin O Lachtnain on September 29, 2005  · 

Well surely it’s a question of market demand too? I suspect that people like to read slightly liberal newspapers, even if they vote more conservatively. If that’s true, the newspaper companies are just give the consumers what they want. This shapes the editorial and hiring policy. In turn, the editorial policy probably shapes the political opinions of the recruits as well.

Sometimes like this happens is thought to happen regarding opinion-polling as well as newspaper-buying. It appears that voters sometimes like to appear more liberal talking to a researcher, but then act conservatively when they are in the more private voting situation. (The most famous case of this is in the UK elections of the late 80s.)

3.0 rating

Azeem on September 30, 2005  · 


I’d disagree with both the evidence base and your hypothesis here.

If you look at the US, the fastest growing news channel is FoxNews, a conservative station. Talkradio is enormous (We’d need to look at the data) and overwhelmingly run by right-wingers.

In the UK. the ‘right leaning’ press dominates circulations (Times, Telegraph; Express, Mail, Sun).

And how would you account for dissident press/samizdat of the Eastern Bloc?

I think there may be another assertion which is less to do with income and more to do personality and the critical approach of journalists.

To succeed as a journalist you need to have critical faculties, entering situations with a degree of scepticism. You also need to be able to understand the nuance of situations, and ideally see past the dogma.(Although you may not.)

The media has long held a role as a fourth estate, providing checks and balances to the role of the state–a good thing unless you are an unbridled Hobbesian. This requires a constant pushing back at the state.

One question is whether there is a connection between the analytical and critical (a necessary condition for being a good journalist) and being a conservative. The answer is there may well be. Conservatism is, well, more conservative.

Historically, in the UK at least, we have had Conservative governments which means that the press would necessarily be challenging conservative assertions.

Finally, journalists are really not paid badly in either the UK or the US. A typical national newspaper reporter in the UK would earn GBP40k (and much more in the US) which would put them in the top quintile of earners.

Perhaps compared to an i-banker a journalist is paid badly. But compared to the rest of the nation, they are very well paid indeed.

3.0 rating

Hadi on November 5, 2005  · 

check out America’s Right Turn by Richard Viguerie (2004) – fascinating description of how the internet, cable and alternative media were very successfully used by US conservatives to circumbent traditional media and get their messages across…

3.0 rating

JP LaMere on April 7, 2006  · 

There is a direct correlation (at least in the USA) between increasing levels of education and a tendency to be liberal, and I mean liberal in the classic sense and not how right-wingers have miscontrued the term. An interesting observation I’ve heard and concur with is that when people are poor they are Democrats, when they get rich they become Republicans, and when they are very rich they are Democrats.

3.0 rating

Leave a Comment

Español / English

Subscribe to e-mail bulletin:
Recent Tweets