Below are his responses about confirmation bias in religion, the “score” of our morals, the power of branding, how his research has made him a centrist, and how the search for truth is hampered by our own biases. Big thanks to him and all our readers for another great Q&A.
As a writer, I tend to think about media bias from a different perspective than the average media consumer, and also different from academic researchers who try to identify media bias via data analysis, as described in our recent podcast “How Biased Is Your Media?”
I tend to think about subtle but telling things like word choice and sentence structure — what is the journalist emphasizing, or downplaying, and why? — but also an article’s placement, inclusion or exclusion of outside quotes, and choice of headline (which, for the record, is usually written by an editor and not the reporter him/herself).
Above all, I tend to compare articles from different newspapers that are based on the same event. This is to me one of the simplest but most powerful ways to take the pulse of a newspaper’s culture. If, for instance, two newspapers publish articles based on a simple event — a state comptroller’s report about Wall Street bonuses, for instance — one can read a little bit of institutional attitude into the two papers’ resultant articles.
Does media concentration lead to biased coverage? A new paper from two Berkeley economists,Stefano Delavigna and Alec Kennedy, studies News Corp. and Time Warner, and approaches the big question through a small window: movie reviews. Here’s the abstract:
Is there any question that if Governor Rick Perry of Texas were a Democrat that all the left-leaning editorialists, economists, bloggers, etc., would be bending over backward to praise the Texas employment picture rather than bending over backward to belittle it?
Q. Why does liberal media bias exist in the first place? What would you suggest as a way that a) journalists could be more aware of their own bias and limit it in their reporting; or b) the profession of journalism could attract a more unbiased (or merely more representative) cohort? – Jack
As the title suggests, it has a definite conservative slant. It is not, however, a right-wing rant by any means. Rather, it is a carefully researched and amusingly written book by a highly regarded academic.
Groseclose’s core argument is that the U.S. media overall has a strong liberal bias, and that this bias strongly influences how Americans vote and how they think about the issues of the day. He reached this conclusion by constructing a “political quotient” (PQ), which is meant to measure political views in a “precise, objective, and quantitative way.” The average American voter, he argues, has a PQ of 50. Liberal Democrats Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi both have a PQ of approximately 100; conservative Republicans Michele Bachmann and Jim DeMint have a PQ of approximately 0. If we could “magically eliminate liberal media bias,” Groseclose writes, the average American would have a PQ closer to 25, and would be more in line with people like Ben Stein, Dennis Miller and Bill O’Reilly.
My good friend and co-author Tim Groseclose has a new book out entitled Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind. As the title suggests, it has a definite conservative slant. It is not, however, a right-wing rant by any means. Rather, it is a carefully researched and amusingly written book by a highly regarded academic.
I’m bored to death by politics. So I didn’t expect to enjoy Groseclose’s book, but I really did. I’m always surprised when an academic can write for a general audience, but Groseclose definitely has that gift.
As I said in my blurb for his book, liberals will not like what Groseclose has to say, but that is all the more reason why liberals should read his book.
I was sitting in the student union at the University of Chicago last week when a student came by putting “Free Mumia” leaflets on the tables. I have never paid much attention to the Mumia Abu-Jamal case. On the one hand, I know enough about police, the criminal justice system, and racism to believe that an innocent black man could . . .
The playwright David Mamet, writing in the Village Voice, declared that he had renounced his unabashed liberal world view for a more conservative one, due primarily to the influence of economists like Milton Friedman and Thomas Sowell. Mamet found: … that I agreed with them: a free-market understanding of the world meshes more perfectly with my experience than that idealistic . . .
As Levitt has noted in the past, media bias is a hot topic among some economists. Typically the bias is reflected in a paper’s reporting (as Dubner pointed out here). But can newspapers also influence public opinion based on their coverage of economic matters? That’s the question addressed in the working paper “Partisan Bias in Economic News: Evidence on the . . .
If you believe a recent study, a good guess is 25%. At least that is the estimate for American adults overall. And over a lifetime, an estimated 46% of Americans will suffer from mental illness. There is an interesting post on the “Done as a Society” blog that applies Freakonomics-type thinking to this result. Some thoughts: 1) When I entered . . .