Michael Kelly begins a series (i.e. more than one) of columns on bias in the news media. Like most columns of this sort, this first installment neglects the structural biases of the news media. Too bad. These biases are potentially more harmful than ideological/partisan biases because the latter are usually apparent to even casual observers. In my opinion, the structural biases affect coverage–what gets covered, how it gets covered–far more profoundly than ideological or partisan biases.
Kelly also continues to posit the simplistic notion that because a lot of journalists identify themselves as Democrats or liberals the media must be ideologically biased toward liberals. He forgets that journalists operate within an institutional structure and, generally, by a set of standards that demand ethical behavior (defined by journalists to be sure). He cites figures to sustain his argument about the numbers of liberals, but the figures prove nothing more than many more reporters are either liberals or Democrats than conservatives or Republicans. Where is the causal connection between these figures and bias? Don’t get caught in the common-sense trap. For a pundit trying to move hearts and minds, the enthymeme from such studies to liberal bias is an easy one to make. For an academic, trying to establish something like truth, that common-sense leap is not nearly good enough. To continue to make this argument is to make a polemic argument, not an academic argument.
None of this is to say that ideological or partisan bias does not exist. Rather, my argument remains that citizens need to keep a closer eye on the structural biases. (via MediaMinded)