[lit-ideas] Re: The nature of Media Bias

  • From: Judith Evans <judithevans001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2004 19:29:04 +0000 (GMT)

Lawrence
 
I can only reply briefly now -- one of my computers has more or less broken 
down, I've had problems setting the other one up.
 
I couldn't get through to the Pew Study, I had of course read the summary. 
 
>would correspond to the G&M results which show that the News Reporting,
>presumably by some of these same Journalists, reflects a Liberal bias
 
not necessarily; it was well known here that many of the journalists for a 
major right-wing UK newspaper, a leading quality broadsheet, were socialists.  
Their work for that paper never ever showed any sign of that.  (A number of 
them left to join a new newspaper, some while ago now: the paper they left did 
not change as a result ot their leaving.)   
 
Moreover, G/M claim to have shown rather more than that there's a certain 
liberal tendency in the media -- see their results.
 
>I misunderstood the meaning of "back of the envelope." 
 
I thought you had -- see my post -- but your reply suggested you knew something 
I didn't about G/M's work in progress.
 
G&M suggest that Numberg doesn't have the mathematical training
necessary to understand their Estimation Method -- training one receives
when specializing in Economics
 
But is their Estimation Method capable of off-setting bad primary data?  I'd be 
sceptical about that, and anyway, the following suggests that it either cannot, 
or has not:
 
>>>>>>>>>>
 
the "back of the =
envelope"
approach gives results that approximate the results when one uses their
primary formula. 
 
>>>>>>>>>
 
 
> Barro from Harvard, on the other hand, =
>has
>specialized in Economics and, presumably does have the training. He is
>impressed with the G&M procedure.
Economists (indeed, famous and distinguished economists) don't always agree, 
Lawrence. I bet there are some who, if they've bothered to look at G/M, think 
it's rubbish.
 
> Nunberg did accuse =
>them of
>cherry picking, but his argument would, if anything, suggest a =
>Republican
>rather than a bias.
 
I'm not sure what this means, Lawrence. I had already read Nunberg's piece and 
their reply when I sent the post to which you reply here.
 
Judy

 
 
Lawrence Helm <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Judy: =20

The Pew Research Center Poll is corroborating evidence in the sense (if =
my
memory hasn't failed me) that Pew has polled journalists who more and =
more
identify themselves as "Liberal." [I swear I read that, but now can't =
find
the reference]. If what I think I remember is actually a Pew Polling, =
this
would correspond to the G&M results which show that the News Reporting,
presumably by some of these same Journalists, reflects a Liberal bias. =20

The Pew Poll I could find (comprising "inductive evidence")is
(http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=3D215) referred =
to by
Bruce Bartlett of NCPA at http://www.ncpa.org/edo/bb/2004/20040623bb.htm
comments on it: "A new poll from the Pew Research Center has raised =
again
the issue of liberal bias in the media. . . a high percentage of =
Americans
perceive a liberal bias. . . This has affected viewing habits.
Conservatives have drifted away from those outlets they perceive as most
biased, which has contributed heavily to an overall decline in =
viewership.
Among all Americans, those who watch the evening network news regularly =
have
fallen from 60 percent in 1993 to just 34 percent today. Among =
Republicans,
15 percent or less report watching the evening news on ABC, CBS or NBD." =
[I
read the poll to say 17 percent or less.] =20

This may turn out to be G&M's Magnum Opus. I don't know of anything =
else
they've written. Their initial analysis wasn't crystal clear to me. I
misunderstood them at several points, but their response to Numberg =
cleared
up all my misunderstandings. =20

I misunderstood the meaning of "back of the envelope." Their primary
procedure depends upon their formulae; however the "back of the =
envelope"
approach gives results that approximate the results when one uses their
primary formula. Their very damning response of Numberg was that he =
never
commented upon their primary formula (contained in the section entitled =
"The
Estimation Method" but only upon their "back of the envelope" short cut
method. G&M suggest that Numberg doesn't have the mathematical training
necessary to understand their Estimation Method -- training one receives
when specializing in Economics. Barro from Harvard, on the other hand, =
has
specialized in Economics and, presumably does have the training. He is
impressed with the G&M procedure.

Another damning criticism of Numberg is that he made a big thing over =
their
200 Think Tanks because the person who selected this List, Saraf, was =
found
to be associated with a Republican group. G&M point out that since the
application of the formula involves counting the citings of the 200 =
Think
Tanks in articles, speeches, etc., if there were more Republican Think =
Tanks
(as a result of Saraf selecting more of them for his list) then the =
results
might be tilted (by the degree that number of Republican Think Tanks =
exceed
the number of Democratic Think Tanks) toward a Republican bias. If G&M =
had
a Republican agenda, they should have selected a List that had more =
Liberal
Think Tanks on it. G&M said that they used someone else's list =
(Saraf's) in
order to avoid the accusation of cherry-picking. Nunberg did accuse =
them of
Cherry picking, but his argument would, if anything, suggest a =
Republican
rather than a bias.

Lawrence Helm
San Jacinto


-----Original Message-----
From: Judith Evans


Lawrence,
=20
First my apologies to anyone who doesn't like .html mail. My usual =
computer
has more or or less collapsed and I haven't yet set this one up fully, =
so
I'm relying on web mail I can't control Next, it's late here now, I'll =
reply
briefly.
=20
>>>>>>>>.
The analysis has been out there (somewhere) since
September 2003. Barro reviewed it in June of 2004 for Business Week and
then in December 2004 for The Weekly Standard. From June to December his
confidence in the G&M methodology seems to have increased
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
=20
But I see no evidence that people in political science and media studies
have any confidence in it at all -- I haven't checked the account of the
criticism it met at UCLA (from, I read, everyone from senior faculty to
graduate students), I'll try.=20
=20
>My impression of the G&M approach is that they start with the ADA data =
on
>house members=20
=20
They take the ADA ranking but are unhappy with it so use the median =
score
instead of the mean. I've just read something that purports to be their
paper -- the .pdf is on my other computer -- it doesn't reference the =
ADA
source. (The references are few, they suggest G/M are as ill-informed =
re
media analysis as I assumed from their cv's.)
=20
>>>>>>>
Conservative house members would be assumed to cite Conservative think
tanks. Liberal house members would be assumed to cite Liberal think =
tanks.
>>>>>
=20
And so think tanks can be classified that way and then the media can be
classified by the think tanks they cite (except that Rand is a problem =
--
see G/M -- so part of Rand is omitted -- yes). To be fair, they aren't =
quite
as crass as this suggests: they omit citations that carry an obvious =
hostile
labelling. (Actually "they" is 20 research assistants, unless the RAs
simply gathered the data.) And they do find an explanation for the =
ranking
of The Drudge Report. But still, this is rather like someone assessing =
the
members of an e-mail list by counting the number of times they mention =
Marx.
=20
>>>>>>>.
This implies that someone will have to be
subjectively modifying the raw data to throw out elements considered to =
be
aberrations.
>>>>>
Yes. This is not an objective piece of work, and it would be better if =
they
didn't suggest it was. These men aren't I'd say right-wing ideologues, =
but
they do seem to believe rather blindly in the power and integrity of
econometric techniques.
=20
>>>>>>>>>
This data period at first seemed
too short to me, but after thinking about it, the Q&M procedure isn=92t
intended to determine bias once and for all but only bias during a =
limited
period.=20
>>>>>
=20
But that isn't how it's been reported in the media that have taken the =
study
up.
=20
>>>>>>>>>.
What precisely do G&M do with these Think Tanks? Do
they all fit nicely on the Left and the Right? Or does it matter?
>>>>>>>
=20
That's interesting too - yes it is a problem -- they seem to say it =
doesn't
matter yet as the Rand is a problem (its reports, apparently, vary
ideologically by topic) they omitted some of Rand. =20
=20
>>>>>>>>>
[By the way, in
TWS article he credits the Pew Research Center for providing =
corroborating
evidence, i.e., =93the strong tendency of journalists to describe =
themselves
as liberal.=94]=20
>>>>>
=20
that isn't really evidence, Lawrence.
=20
If this paper -- OK, it does seem to be just a working paper, so it
shouldn't really be greeted too harshly but otoh, nor should it be =
received
as though it were a magnum opus!
=20
But really the main reason for scepticism is the result. If they really
believe the media are as "liberal" as they say, well, there's something
wrong with them. =20
=20
Judy
=20

=20


=20

































--=20

Judy Evans, Cardiff, UK=20

mailto:judithevans001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx





=20

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