How biased is the Australian media?

Camped firmly over the middle-ground. Sorry to disappoint.


Leigh and Gans in "How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant" in The Economic Record 2012 employed several different approaches to find that the Australian media are quite centrist, with very few outlets being statistically distinguishable from the middle of Australian politics.

The minor exceptions were ABC Channel 2 and perhaps the Melbourne Age in its news slant in the 2004 election. Their media slants were small.

Australian newspapers tended to endorse the Liberal-National coalition in the federal elections from 1996 to 2007 although The Australian, right-wing rag that it is, backed the Labor Party in 2007! I agree that this was a serious lapse of judgement.

Another lapse is the editorial of April 6, 1995, where the Australian said: "The scientific consensus that global warming is occurring unnaturally, primarily as a result of industrial development and deforestation, is no longer seriously disputed in the world." Murdoch’s paper supports global action on climate change based on science.

The editorial endorsements series should have been longer in the analysis of Leigh and Gans because some newspapers back winners just before they become winners and oppose the re-election of tired and smelly governments that have being there too long no matter what their party.

The results of Leigh and Gans should come as no surprise. Newspapers that are out of tune with their readers lose sales and risk going broke. Plenty of newspapers are losing money these days because of the digital revolution in media. There is no scope left to indulge the political preferences of the owners at the expense of circulation. Margaret Simons got it right when she said:

The market is too small to support newspapers that don’t play to the centre ground … In a marketplace full of bland centrist publications and carefully mixed stables of commentators, small deviations can look extreme.

For links discussing the quality of the analysis of Leigh and Gans, see http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.co.nz/2009/09/measuring-media-bias-in-oz.html and http://economics.com.au/?p=4226 for Gans’ rely to http://andrewnorton.info/2009/09/02/can-public-intellectuals-be-used-to-assess-partisan-media-slant/

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