11.04.2007

Defund!



There are many studies like this. Many of them have better methodologies. What makes this one unique is that it comes from the journalism institution journalists respect most.

Mainstream news sources are biased and that’s okay. I believe the market is in the process of sorting this out. However there is one institution that is outside the market. I again come back to the question: Why am I compelled to fund -- with my income taxes – an overtly political organization? Why can’t an angel investor like George Soros take over NPR and make it the slightly more reasonable cousin to Air America listeners want it to be?

UPDATE: Here are the exact findings as they pertain to NPR:

NPR—Morning Edition – more time for the Democrats
Like the media overall, the first 30 minutes NPR’s Morning Edition produced more stories about Democratic candidates than Republicans (41% vs. 24%). What was different was how little negative coverage Democrats received, especially compared with all other media. Stories about a Democratic candidate were more seven times more positive than negative: 41% positive vs. 6% negative. The majority of coverage, 53% of stories, was neutral.
Looking at specific candidates, stories about Barack Obama carried a clearly positive tone two-thirds of the time. Not a single Morning Edition story was negative. Furthermore, 43% of Hillary Clinton’s coverage was positive vs. 14% negative.
Stories about one of the Republican candidates was more evenly split in tone: 30% positive to 20% negative and 50% neutral. Similar to its public broadcasting counterpart, the NewsHour, NPR devoted more attention to lesser-known candidates. Mitt Romney, the candidate running third for the GOP nomination in most national polls, was the most covered Republican figure, tied with Mike Huckabee, a mostly unknown candidate at the time. Often considered the GOP front runner, Rudy Giuliani, only had one story devoted to him and John McCain had none.
NPR was also the one outlet where there was a marked difference between the total amount of airtime vs. total number of stories. While 24% of the campaign stories were about a Republican candidate, just 15% of the total airtime was spent on them. This suggests that stories about the Republican candidates were brief, creating an even greater gap in the total coverage of Republicans and Democrats.


Update: Fox News and NPR are equally biased

By a margin of 33% to 16%, Americans say that CNN has a liberal bias. The nation’s adults say the same about NPR by a 27% to 14% margin.
There is one major exception to the belief that media outlets have a liberal bias—Fox News. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Americans say it has a bias that favors conservatives while 15% say it has a liberal bias.
When it comes to delivering news without bias, 37% believe NPR accomplishes that goal. Thirty-six percent (36%) say the same for Fox and 32% believe it’s true of CNN. As noted earlier, just 25% believe the major broadcast networks deliver news in an unbiased manner. Results for other media outlets will be released over the next week.

7 comments:

Ben said...

What about PBS?

I have to say that in principal I agree with your position. But at the same time I think it's perfectly fine for the government to sponsor culturally relevant projects (defined loosely) in a limited and transparent way, via grants etc.

These numbers make it seem like PBS, which has (or rather, I think it has) a funding model like NPR, is the most successful in it's journalistic mission with regard to a kind of political fairness.

Is it just NPR you have a problem with, or is it the funding model?

Andrew said...

Actually if you sum the absolute values of the coverage disparity between Democrat and Republican coverage cable news (which I assume is the avg. of CNN, MSNBC and Fox) is the most even handed. 5.2 + .3 + 4.9 = 10.4 cable vs. 8.3 + 11.1 + 2.8 = 22.2 PBS.

In any event, including “PBS News” was a poor choice for this study. PBS “news” is a sad little program that looks like CNN circa 1990 while “cable news” is the collective effort of the 24 hour news channels with very different editorial voices. Furthermore the total audience of every NPR program combined is still smaller than the daily audience of “Morning Edition” while it’s fairly obvious that the audience of PBS news is 12 old ladies and the epileptics that can’t handle all the news tickers on MSNBC. In short, PBS “news” is in no way representative of the editorial “voice” of PBS programming. That PBS produces some quality, non-political programming shouldn’t be justification for them to be pursue a political agenda however ardently big-bird-philes argue otherwise.

The funding issues I have with PBS/NPR are twofold:

1.) I don’t like my tax dollars used to forward a political agenda
2.) The public/private dual funding arrangement gives private donors a disproportionate voice in programming decisions. Take a look at the top 20 donors (http://www.npr.org/about/annualreports/npr2003.pdf - Page 23) on http://www.activistcash.com/ . Virtually every one is also a large donor to NRDC, Greenpeace or similar advocacy groups. You can’t tell me “climate connections” idiocy I hear twice a week just came out of the ether.

Joe said...

Why am I compelled to fund, with my tax dollars, a war I despise?

Why am I compelled to fund, with foregone tax dollars, thousands of nonprofits whose missions I despise?

Taxes are used to pay for lots of things that people don't like.

Andrew said...

Are you really attempting to somehow diminish my objection to the federal government’s engagement in political advocacy by bringing up your completely unrelated objection to the war? I realize you probably have better things to do but man thats facile.

Ben said...

Re: the most recent update...
Any study that reports that 15% of respondents believe that Fox news betrays a LIBERAL bias is automatically rendered flawed. Perhaps that's biased. Nonetheless, I'm pretty sure they only asked retards from the plant Goober for that one, and they don't count. Only Americans count.

By the way, why is Joe's last comment facile? In case I'm being dim and completely missing the point, you're both asking the same question. Why are my tax dollars being spent in a way I don't approve? There are hundreds of billions of good reasons to ask that question. Of all of those, there has to be some reason why NPR matters so much besides the fact it pisses you off. When I chalk up things that I consider superfluous spending of tax dollars, CPB sponsored stuff simply doesn't rank.

That being said, I'd prefer that PBS and NPR scrap the 15% of government funding. It doesn't seem worth the hassle and I'd think they'd gain some integrity in the process.

Andrew said...

Well now you know how I feel about NPR. I take it you wouldn’t be happy if you were forced to fund Fox.

A facile argument is one that cannot be refuted because the bar of proof is set too low, such as: “I can eat all the sausage, cheese and beer I want because I’m going to die someday”. Joe’s argument was facile because it seems to say little more than “being dissatisfied with the government is invalid because the government will never completely satisfy anyone”.

Andrew said...

Oh I forgot to add that the $400 million in funding the CPB receives is a small part of the total government support Public broadcasting. NPR alone has nearly 700 member stations with a presence in every major market that receive up to a third of their funding from state and local governments. A sizable chunk of the radio spectrum is set aside for expressly their use for which they pay no FCC licensing fees. The audience for Morning Edition is in excess of 13 million listeners a week. The cost to produce such an entity in the private sector would be in the $10’s of billions. NPR isn’t just some minute pork barrel Alpaca subsidy. It is a large, agenda driven, national media presence that routinely legitimizes ideological positions that wouldn’t pass muster in the private sector including constant alarmism concerning climate change, income inequality and the war.

Want to know why liberal talk radio never took off? Look no further.

Personally I’m pissed because if I don’t want to listen to music in my car it’s either NPR or the right wing equivalent of Air America (Savage, Hannity, etc.). So I listen to NPR. Every other city I’ve lived in had intelligent alternatives. If NPR went away I’d have to believe the resulting vacuum would be filled by something better and even if that something was just as liberal it would at least be acknowledged.

Honestly who wants to listen to people eating oysters.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16250281

DEFUND!