Christian Conservative said...
Amm, I forget where I saw it today, but we're headed back up, and are polling just slightly above our election day percentage at 37%... but of course, that poll won't hit the front pages, the media being liberal mouthpieces and all
Of course that is ridiculous, with no relationship to reality. However, and I don't mean to generalize, all of the Conservatives seem to buy into this perceived bias. You see it in almost every thread, bloggers continually point to any story to support the flawed thesis, the idea has taken on almost mythical proportions. The idea manifests itself right through the Conservative hierarchy, wherein the Prime Minister has adopted this seige mentality, as it relates to the media.
I suppose, findings such as this, feed Conservatives "suspicions":
According to a recent study by two Ryerson University journalism professors:
* Almost half of all Canadian television news directors, the individuals who have the most influence in determining what political news is covered on your favourite nightly newscast and how it is reported, vote Liberal.
* A TV news director working at the tax-funded CBC is almost three times more likely to vote for the NDP in federal elections, compared to his or her counterpart in the private sector.
It found that 45.8% of all Canadian television news directors surveyed in 2002 said they were Liberal voters. By contrast, only 14.6% said they were Progressive Conservative voters, 10.4% Canadian Alliance, 10.4% NDP. This put the news directors at the high end of overall public support for the Liberals during that period (40-46% according to the polls) and at the low end for the PCs (15-18%), Alliance (14-18%) and NDP (13-16%).
If you train you gaze solely on this Ryerson University study, then you can extrapolate, that yes, a media bias clearly exists. However, if Conservatives trumpet findings such as the above, they must also accept other studies which completely refute the thesis.
I would argue that the political leanings of news directors, or editors for that matter, is relevant, if that perceived bias manifests itself in the coverage. Where the Conservative argument falls apart completely, is when the discussion turns to actual coverage, not the ambiguous leanings of those behind the news.
Coverage is most critical at election time, I think everyone can agree on that score. With that in mind, a quick reminder of the McGill University study for the last two elections (h/t Crawl Across the Ocean):
During the campaign there were 2,113 articles written about the election in the 5 English newspapers studied (The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Sun).
Of those 2113, 1,711 (81%) mentioned the Liberal party. Out of those 1,711, there were 34 (2%) with positive mentions of the Liberal party and 342 (20%) with negative mentions of the Liberals, giving a 10 to 1 ratio of negative mentions to positive.
Meanwhile, for the Conservative Party, the figures were 1592 (75%) total articles, including 82 (5%) positive mentions and 159 (10%) negative mentions, for a roughly 2:1 ratio of negative to positive.
The NDP garnered (4%) positive mentions and 7% negative mentions, while the Bloc had the most favourable(!) coverage of any party from the English language papers at 4% positive, 5% negative (although they were only mentioned in 15% of stories).
During the campaign there were 3,753 articles written about the election in the 7 newspapers studied (The Calgary Herald, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, the Toronto Star and the Vancouver Sun, La Presse and Le Devoir).
Of those 3753, 3035 mentioned the Liberal party. Out of those 3035, there were 40 with positive mentions of the Liberal party and 445 with negative mentions of the Liberals, giving a 11 to 1 ratio of negative mentions to positive (slightly higher than last election's 10-1 ratio).
Meanwhile, for the Conservative Party, the figures were 2730 total articles, including 144 positive mentions and 127 negative mentions, for a slightly positive overall slant (the positive mentions were similar to last election, but the negatives were cut in half).
The NDP garnered 2% positive mentions and 3% negative mentions, while the Bloc received 2% positive coverage, 4% negative.
Obviously, the political leanings of the media brain trust had no bearing on coverage, in fact if anyone should be complaining about rampant bias, it's the left wing. The 2004 numbers are powerful, the 2006 ones are just plain astounding. If you dig deeper, you find that individual papers further illustrate the anti-Liberal bias. The Toronto Star, vilified as the Liberal Star by Conservatives, actually comes out statistically balanced. On the other hand, a paper like The National Post demonstrates a tremendous, one-sided bias in favor of the Conservatives.
Everyone across the political spectrum complains about coverage, particularly when it doesn't seem sympathetic to your opinion. Sometimes that criticism is justified, and we all know the players where it applies. However, its is primarily the realm of Conservatives, that takes the bias argument to delusional heights. Any criticism of Harper is more evidence of a conspiracy to bring back the Liberals (see SDA). I find the entire pre-occupation a gigantic, intellectual bore, and the best part, the facts actually suggest otherwise, both on substance and ownership.
The crutch of convenience, that reaffirms an imported illusion, attaching the virtuous struggle against the amassed forces of opposition, bent on destruction. Fiction.