Is there media bias?

A leading characteristic of media bias is that people agree on its existence, but disagree on its manifestation.

The print media is under dire threats to its existence at the moment. A newspaper that ignores what its readers want does so only at great peril.

Armen Alchian and George Stigler both argued that realised profits are the criterion by which the market process selects survivors: those who realise positive profits survive and will grow their market share; those who suffer losses will eventually disappear unless they improve themselves. The surviving media outlets will be those firms that anticipated or adapted fastest to the current and future demands of their readers and viewers.

Any media bias is likely to be slightly to the centre-left for the following reasons:

  1. Young women tend to be one of the most marginal groups of news consumers (i.e., they are the most willing to switch to activities besides reading or watching the news).
  2. Young women often make more of the consumption decisions for the household so advertisers will pay more to reach this group.
  3. Since young women tend to be more centre-left, on average, a news outlet may want to slant its coverage that way. Media sell space to advertisers and tailor the way they cover politics to gain more readers and viewers.

Puglisi and Snyder found that:

  • Using endorsements of state-level initiatives and referendums, newspapers are located almost exactly with the median voter – the average voter – in their home states.
  • Newspapers are moderate relative to interest groups and political parties.
  • Although newspapers exhibit some variation in their ideological position, they tend to be much closer to the median voter than most interest groups.
  • Newspapers appear to be more liberal than voters on social and cultural issues such as gay marriage, but tend to be more conservative on economic issues such as the minimum wage.
  • On average, the news and editorial sections have almost identical partisan positions.

Positive profits accrue to media outlets that are better at serving their readers and viewers than their competitors. Their lesser rivals will lose money, exhaust their retained earnings and fail to attract further investor support.

There is no best practice on measuring media bias. The literature is too young. Milton Friedman put up robustness as his test. Hit the hypothesis with as many tests as possible with many different data sets.

Most studies using many different data sets and methodologies suggest that the media reflects the politics of the market they serve. Newspapers and TV stations are big businesses, and they increased readership, ratings and revenue by presenting factual and informative news with a dose of ‘infotainment’. 

Competition forces news media outlets, just like any other firm, to cater to their customers’ preferences. Why did anyone think the media industry was any different from any other?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The media market works: US media is slightly to the left of centre | Utopia - you are standing in it!
  2. Trackback: Is there media bias? | Official site of DJ Michael Heath

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Real Time with Bill Maher Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Climate Audit

by Steve McIntyre

New Historical Express

(Formerly Hatful of History)

Why Evolution Is True

Why Evolution is True is a blog written by Jerry Coyne, centered on evolution and biology but also dealing with diverse topics like politics, culture, and cats.

The Skeptical Doctor

Dedicated to the work of Theodore Dalrymple

Science Matters

Reading between the lines, and underneath the hype.

Uneasy Money

Commentary on monetary policy in the spirit of R. G. Hawtrey

The Market Monetarist

Markets Matter, Money Matters...

Point of Order

Politics and the economy

Truth on the Market

Scholarly commentary on law, economics, and more

Organizations and Markets

Economics of organizations, strategy, entrepreneurship, innovation, and more

John Quiggin

Commentary on Australian and world events from a socialist and democratic viewpoint

The Antiplanner

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Pedestrian Observations

For Walkability and Good Transit, and Against Boondoggles and Pollution

Bet On It

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Trade Diversion

Commentary on development, globalization, and trade by Jonathan Dingel.

Movie Nation

Roger Moore's film criticism, against the grain since 1984.

AwayPoint

Between An Island of Certainties and the Unknown Shore

Weapons and Warfare

History and Hardware of Warfare

fportier.wordpress.com/

Franck Portier's professional page

NZCPR Site

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Anti-Dismal

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Bowalley Road

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

History of Sorts

WORLD WAR 2,EIGHTIES,MUSIC,HISTORY,HOLOCAUST

Tudor Chronicles

News, reviews and talk all about the Tudors

Karl du Fresne

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Roger Pielke Jr.

an undisciplined academic - @RogerPielkeJr on Twitter

Great Books Guy

Reading The Classics

@STILLTish. Gender Abolition

Examining Gender Identity ideology and its impact on Women's Sex based rights and Gay Rights. Exploring how this has taken such firm root in Western societies (Cognitive & Regulatory Capture).

200-Proof Liberals

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

What Paul Gregory is Writing About

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Offsetting Behaviour

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Conversable Economist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Barrie Saunders

Thoughts on public policy and the media

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

Coyote Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The History of Parliament

Blogging on parliament, politics and people, from the History of Parliament

Books & Boots

reflections on books and art

Legal History Miscellany

Posts on the History of Law, Crime, and Justice

Sex, Drugs and Economics

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

%d bloggers like this: