Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

'liberal media bias' revealed

For a big, tough Calgarian hockey dad come to whip us Toronto Star tea-drinkers into shape, PM Harper is pretty easily damaged. He has now invoked the Blogging Tories in last-ditch imbecility.

This notion of a liberal (or Liberal) media bias is one that has perplexed myself and my co-blogger from some time. There's the Star, granted. But what else? The Sun, which amounts to the local newspaper of every mid-sized Canadian city - well, no. The Post? CanWest Global? Globe and Mail - maybe sometimes, although with an opinion page dominated by Christine Blatchford? Yes, the CBC has run mini-series about Tommy Douglas and Pierre Trudeau. But who watches CBC mini-series? (Other than me - because Colm Feore's Trudeau is cinema's zenith).

Anyways, here's the truth. This was published last fall:

Canada: No Evidence of Liberal Media Bias

October 4, 2005


Source: Toronto Star

Here we go again. Once more, as we edge closer to a federal election, conservative commentators accuse the news media of being out of touch with the real public, of having a liberal bias. It's a predictable pronouncement that elicits knowing nods from the right.
The problem is, what hard evidence there is about Canadian newsrooms shows that just isn't true. The Canadian News Directors Study, a national survey of the political leanings of television news directors, found otherwise.

We asked news directors — journalists in charge of setting news agendas — dozens of questions about what they think and what they do. Guess what? When it comes to voting patterns, our key TV journalists are not much different from their viewers. Their political allegiances are very much in line with those of the general population — in sharp contrast to what has been found in the United States.

In 2002, 46 per cent of news directors we surveyed said they would vote for the Liberals.
Environics polls conducted about the same time showed that between 40 and 46 per cent of the population intended to vote Liberal. Fifteen per cent of news directors intended to vote for the Conservatives and just over 10 per cent for the Canadian Alliance.

Environics estimated that between 15 and 18 per cent of Canadians said they intended to vote for the Tories and between 14 and 18 per cent for the Alliance.

Yes, the news directors' numbers were a little lower than the public's when it came to the Alliance. But that should be weighed against the fact that only 10 per cent of news directors intended to vote for the New Democrats. In Canada, NDP support at that time measured between 13 and 16 per cent. In short, TV news bosses are more in the middle than, well, the middle.

So what does this tell us? At least among decision makers, Canadian broadcast newsrooms are not crawling with a disproportionate number of leftists.
And, speaking of lefties, in case you're wondering about the CBC, here's another reality check: 13 per cent of CBC news directors said they would vote for the NDP. Again, this is right in line with the public, in fact a little on the low side.

No CBC news directors said they intended to vote for the Alliance but more than 11 per cent of news directors in the private sector did — so just a little channel surfing should smooth the furrowed brow of any fretful social conservative.

There's a history of this kind of thumping of the media elsewhere, most notably in the U.S. where research shows the vast majority of journalists are Democrats and also that there's a gap between their views and those of the general population. Republican pundits make much of this.
The Canadian right may wish to import that research as evidence that Canadian journalists really do not reflect their readers and audiences. However, the data we gathered show that this baggage really ought to be stopped at the border for much closer examination.
Recently, Peter Kent challenged journalists to assess liberal bias in the upcoming federal election. Kent, deputy editor of news at Global TV, will run as a Conservative candidate in a Toronto riding.

In his challenge, he conceded that "the liberal tilt isn't reflected in news content ... That's because — most of the time — responsible practitioners of our noble craft sublimate personal and political inclinations in their news-gathering and reporting."
We hope that's true. But it's important that Kent and others know it goes beyond that. Even in the privacy of the polling booth, at least in television news, agenda setters closely match the public they seek to inform.

There is no conspiracy, folks. And the numbers so far bear this out.

Marsha Barber and Ann Rauhala are co-authors of the Canadian News Directors Study and journalism professors at Ryerson University in Toronto.

- Mike (SCG)


Blogger Joe Edmonton said...

Funny Mike

You admit the Star has a liberal media bias, then you run an excerpt 'proving' that no such bais exists, from... (wait for it)..The Star

Thanks man, you made my day

1:33 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

What a boring and predictable comment. PUBLISHED in the Toronto Star, WRITTEN by two journalism profs at Ryerson University (of the premier journalism schools in Canada). That is written at the bottom of the article.

But I'm glad I made you happy, Mr. Edmonton.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Joe-I really am consistently relieved to find such easily dismissable arguments from conservatives. Of course the comment is predicatble, and of course it is the kind of half truth that conservatives complain liberals thrive on. Regardless of where it is published, it deals with STATISTICS. I don't care if its published in the I hate joe edmonton journal, either call into question the stats or sit down.

The central problem with conservatives is they cannot discern the difference between a person believing something and having the professionalism to still tell an honest story, hence Kent's senseless critique. This explains how Cons can cling to this w/o any evidence. And not even here in Canada, but int he US. What they forget is that just because conservatives are incapable of not slanting and distorting the news a la Fox News to fit their personal views, that does not mean others can't. If I say Fox is biased, I will be referring to a host being clearly and purposely biased (and I"m not talking OReilley or whoever I'm talking anchors), but a conservative will be referring to bias in the sense that the person says nothing offensive, but fails to slant it to the right.

Harper says a Liberal PM wouldn't have to deal with these problems. A Liberal PM that acted the way Harper is would be run right out of town. Harper's case is nonexistent. Reporters don't want to ask him questions...which happens as a result of him... REFUSING TO TAKE QUESTIONS. hmmm

12:33 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

More importantly, I too will watch the CBC miniseries, as Colm Feore's Trudeau IS most certainly the height of cinematic brilliance.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Sholdice said...

I have to say the portrayal of Turner in the Trudeau series is quite good. The actor has a sort of robotic quality; in the scene of the cabinet discussing the War Measures Act, the director cuts to a close up of Turner's eyes as he scans the Act. It was probably my favourite part of the whole thing (aside from Polly Shannon as Margaret).

10:43 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

ha ha SHoldice you've been talking about that ONE scene for 5 years! It doesn't happen like you describe it, I've watched for it so many times and everytime I see it I think of your observation. If you want to poke fun at the movie do it at the ridiculous Chretien performance where he gives a speech and there's tribal drums behind him.

Still, Laldone, Marchand, Pelletier, and yes even Turner are still well done. Polly Shannon stole our hearts. No its Feore that is the genius. Why have you not succumbed to this fact? And it is still the best thing ever and you must still pay homage or your eternal soul is lost.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Joanne (True Blue) said...

"What a boring and predictable comment. PUBLISHED in the Toronto Star, WRITTEN by two journalism profs at Ryerson University (of the premier journalism schools in Canada)"

That would be even more reason to dismiss the piece as biased!

12:53 PM  
Blogger SteelCityGrit said...

I'll follow Polly Shannon to the ends of the earth. Men With Brooms?

5:02 PM  
Blogger Sholdice said...

Liberal media bias? We all know that the media is controlled by the Masons.

Steve - I don't care what you say, but the Turner thing exists, I'm not making it up, and I will defy until my grave.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Mark, well I do know your version of it has changed. You orignally told me it showed his face and then lit up his eyes or somethign. There just narrowing down the document, I think it is so strange that struck you. I still think that actor is decent, even more so as ANOTHER character, inexplicably, in Trudeau II. WTF?!

Polly Shannon is a goddess. Harvard Man.

True Blue-Again, please. Its so pathetic to attack the person, I mean biased? Find fault with the research methods if you want, but its not enough to dimsiss cold hard facts (unless doing the above) because you don't like who they come from.

11:10 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Mark, ha ha I just watched it and unless there is two scenes wehere Turner scans the act, the movie does not cut to Turner's eyes, it just shows the act kind of quickly fly by, then he says, and you're right its robotic, "sounds fine" or something like that. Sometimes we indulge our memories, like the tribal drums me and mike talk about which now appear to be not so loud after all. ha ha.

11:20 PM  

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