Thoughtful journalists recognize that while objectivity is the professional standard, writing and reporting about anything with more than an inch of depth without reflecting who you are is in reality an impossible dream. Opinions are projected most clearly and obviously in an editorial section, or in a television news segment titled “Opinion,” or “Commentary,” but the opinions of reporters, editors, and producers are reflected in their assignments, story placements, angles, headlines, language, inferences, attitudes, inclusions and omissions, interview selection and editing, and so much more. It is less obvious than editorial positions and therefore more insidious and ultimately more effective.
It has become so accepted among Americans that media are biased that it is a factor in the continual erosion of mainstream media audiences. Bias against conservative and Christian worldviews is documented regularly by groups such as Brent Bozell’s Media Research Center and Accuracy in Media. For a scholarly view of these issues, consult the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Occasionally, members of the establishment media admit bias openly and honestly. In July 2004, Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, said: “There’s one other base here: the media. Let’s talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards — I’m talking about the establishment media, not Fox, but — they’re going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there’s going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that’s going to be worth maybe 15 points.”
While this should be pointed out daily, and groups such as MRC and AIM are vital, the assertion that mainstream media lean heavily toward liberalism is beyond debate today.
In our work, we’ve faced enormous ignorance toward things of faith by media. It’s natural. National and major media representatives are far less likely to be involved in organized religion or to identify themselves with the church, or simply to attend church. While 41% of Americans attend church at least once a week according to both Gallup and Barna Research Group, and two-third of Americans have attended church in the last six months, among major media it is no greater than 30 percent, and among national reporters in the single digits.
The most interesting question is “why” media are mostly liberal and generally disinterested in matters of personal faith.
Here are several possibilities, which I would love to have discussed and augmented by readers.
1. Today’s major reporters were steeped in the idealism of the 60’s, which led them to journalism to change the world. This idealism or utopianism breeds liberalism.
2. As a result, those who turned to media at that time are now in the seats of power in major media; they are liberals, which impacts hiring and promotion, making it difficult for a conservative to emerge.
3. From the water cooler to the editorial meetings, anything that doesn’t align with prevailing liberal thought is scorned and outvoted.
4. Young reporters yield to the peer pressure of those already in the industry, perpetuating the liberal mindset and their desertion from the church.
5. There is something about the daily cynicism that leads to liberal thought.
6. Those involved in the search for knowledge come to believe that this requires openness and tolerance that they are told comes only with a liberal view of the world.
7. It’s part of spiritual warfare and the forces of evil are winning in the newsrooms of America.
What do you think? Why are people working in the media world markedly more liberal and unchurched than the society at large? We need to understand this to combat it. While establishing alternatives such as Fox News Channel, talk radio, and the blogosphere is way one to go, we should also find ways to address the media culture as a whole.
Reporters, editors, and producers can be viewed as landscape artists, called on to paint in living color the scenes they observe in our world. But their denial of personal faith and the full spectrum of creation has left them color blind, and as they reach for their palettes, they can portray the world around them only in shades of gray.
What will it take for the newsrooms of America to paint in full Technicolor?