interesting take on media bias

This is the first time that I've heard someone propose an explanation as to why both the left and the right tend to impugn the media. It's long, so here's the interesting part:

Brian Dominick: There is no objective "bad" or "good." The problem with bias in media is not that it exists, since it is inherent. A bias that can be called “good” to one reader will be “bad” to another. Maybe I want a pro-corporate bias in the news, because I am a stockholder or an executive. Why shouldn’t I have news with that bias? At the same time, a blue collar worker might wish to see another bias in the news. If I am a Christian conservative, I will probably want to see a conservative, Christian bias in the news. Why shouldn’t I? As for those who don’t already have biases, where are these people?

The problem with bias, instead, is that it is not stated. News media should be up front about their bias, but they almost never are. All news media outlets should list their influences, be they ideological or institutional. It is probably the case that both the Leftist and Rightist critics of news media are right -- and they are saying almost entirely different things. (Mind you, when I say Left I mean left of liberal. You'll almost never hear liberals complaining about the news media because, frankly, it's just about right for them much of the time, with the exceptions of Fox News, The New York post and AM talk radio, which pretty much no one contends are "leftist"or even liberal.)

The Left says there are institutional pressures--mostly having to do with corporate ownership and sponsorship, plus affluent audience bases in order to sell advertisements at higher premiums, etc.--that inexorably push all media in rightward direction. Leftists say the pressure is on corporate media outlets to be pro-capitalism, pro-markets and pro-profits, as well as tailored toward upper middle income brackets and above, or extremely massive popular markets below those brackets. How could they not be?

Reliant as it is on wealthy stockholders, sponsors and underwriters and their markets, how could the media be anything but generally favorable to those interests? Corporations and the government would not sponsor news media hostile to their interests -- they would fire any producers or editors who did not toe a pro-corporate line in the newsroom.

Meanwhile, the Right points out that most journalists are liberals, at least socially, and that is almost certainly true. They keep much media coverage to the left of conservatism, but even if they were so inclined, their owners and sponsors keep them from pushing anywhere to the left of liberalism, which has historically proven unsafe territory for the status quo of any society. That's why on so many stories that have only a modest effect on the corporate bottom line, such as gay rights and abortion, there is often a discernible liberal bias in the mainstream. If these stories aren't threatening to profits and market share, let the reporters have some leeway. Throw them a bone.

This all generally maintains a liberal bias at many institutions -- a bias that can be mislabeled as "leftist" and decried by the far Right -- which just so happens to perfectly serve elite interests. While the media are cow-towing to corporations (largely by being corporations themselves, remember!), conservatives are making largely convincing cases to the public (and using extraordinary funding to do this), that the media are something those critics call "leftist." By proving that the media are in fact largely liberal--as if liberal equals leftist--they convince a great many Americans that the media are too liberal, even fringe. Any leftist who stops to think about the matter would probably agree: the media are too liberal, indeed! Oddly, about half the recognized political spectrum lies to the left of liberal.

What is really strange is how this debate always boils down to the bias of journalists, which puts even decent journalists on the defensive, instead of about the bias of institutions. Corporate conglomerates, unprecedented in their massiveness and social power, are behind the news we consume every day. Yet somehow we manage to get distracted into this debate about whether the journalists themselves are biased?

There's an 800 pound gorilla in the room with the reporter, but we focus on the reporter. Is it really conceivable that these giant corporations are leaving their public interface--their power to influence the public and write history--in the hands of the reporters at the very bottom of the hierarchy? Are we really so naive as to think corporations wouldn't in any way take advantage of the opportunity to use such power in their own interests?