Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Media Bias as spontaneous order

There is a redundant feature in the media coverage. This is something often forgotten when charges about bias are flying high.
The Spectator has a few posts on this recently. Robin Aitkin, a long-time BBC reporter is now providing the world with a bias case similar to the old Golberg-story on CBS: old reporter gives an insider's view of how a big media corporation has a hidden agenda about how to portray the news. In Aitkin's case, the BBC bias is similar (if not an exact copy) of the bias among journalists in Swedish public broadcasting:

Why did BBC journalists feel so strongly about Iraq? “They cannot bear President
Bush because he’s a Republican and an evangelical Christian. The sight of a
Labour Prime Minister going into battle alongside such a man was more than many
BBC people could stomach.”
Dislike of Republicans is close to being a BBC
article of faith, say Aitken. “I remember being in the Washington office during
the Lewinsky affair and saying that I rather sympathised with the Republicans. I
think it would have gone down better if I’d confessed to being a
Another article of faith is belief in the moral authority of the
United Nations. “That is something that the BBC holds very dear. I long for the
day when I hear a reporter say something sceptical about the UN.”

Another story on the Spectator points out that media people in the US are far more Democrat-leaning than the rest of the population. There seems to be universal patterns here. But the universability goes further, and deals with more than mere political tendencies. Even the media critics are becoming more global, where news assessments are being blamed for the same things. In this case, a paper is discovered to have lured a politician into incrementing himself. The same debate has been going on in Sweden about Janne Josefsson and his hidden cameras who discovered hidden racism among right-wing party members (article in Swedish).

But there is more to it than just this obvious impression. Jay Rosen has a insightful post on the theme "Each nation its own press" - how institutional arrangements from ideological perspectives can alter the public discourse in different countries.

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