Is NPR Biased, IJ and zim? my findings so far.

makisushi

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jul 15, 2004
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Northern VA
Well, I logged about 4 hours of NPR today. In the morning I listened to Morning Edition and midday I listened to the Kojo Nnamdi show .

I must admit, that I did not hear a biased comment on Morning Edition, but Kojo was unmistakeably biased on his commentary of the VP debate.

The problem with my findings so far, is that, 1) this is only the first day, and 2) i believe the Kojo Nnamdi show is a local NPR show here in the DC area.

I will continue to listen and report any biased commentary this week.
I am positive that the liberal bias of NPR will show through.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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it sounds like you'll be keeping track per show, which is great.

personally, i'm only interested in the NPR shows, not the shows of the affiliates. dunno how others feel.

glad you're on it, btw.
 

solvs

macrumors 603
Jun 25, 2002
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Good for you, you do that

For the record IMO: extreme liberalism AND extreme conservatism is not so good. In a journalist, it's even worse. But in a political commentator, that's to be expected. Fox is riddled with ultra-conservatives. That's just a fact. Then there's Rush, Coulter, and Novak, etc. It is there, and it is biased. You will see some liberals out there. But even Al Franken and Jon Stewart (entertainers BTW) will speak negatively against Democrats. You won't see that much on the other side, but when there is the extreme bias on the liberal side, it is just as wrong.

If NPR is liberal, and you are a liberal, you will think they are fair. If Fox is Conservative, and so are you, same thing. I can't help you with NPR, but I know Fox is anything but "Fair and Balanced" just from the fact that they seem to often attack the Dems, but defend the Repubs. Especially people like O'Reily and Hanity. If NPR says negative things about Dems, your argument is false. If not, you are correct, and they both hypocrites. Those of us in the middle will disagree with almost any of these stations at times. That's why we have our own minds. That's why there should be more journalism and less editorializing.

This whole Liberal vs. Conservative thing is so divisive. Most of us are independant thinkers (or should be). We point out the problems with both sides and think the tactics of the ultras of either side to be just wrong. And most of us are tired of the hypocrisy. Sure some of us will pick a side, and have our own beliefs. But it should be about the facts, not opinion, and unfortunetly that is often not true.

Didn't mean to single you out, I know you are just trying to defend yourself. But come-on, does it really matter? And if you have to look, have to ask, doesn't it kinda negate your argument?
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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sushi -

there's a survey here of npr's guests and think tank citings.

here's a survey of the political affiliation of NPR guests and interviews. i'm not sure of the exact timeframe, but it looks like it's within the past couple years:
Looking at partisan sources—including government officials, party officials, campaign workers and consultants—Republicans outnumbered Democrats by more than 3 to 2 (61 percent to 38 percent). A majority of Republican sources when the GOP controls the White House and Congress may not be surprising, but Republicans held a similar though slightly smaller edge (57 percent to 42 percent) in 1993, when Clinton was president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. And a lively race for the Democratic presidential nomination was beginning to heat up at the time of the 2003 study.

Partisans from outside the two major parties were almost nowhere to be seen, with the exception of four Libertarian Party representatives who appeared in a single story (Morning Edition, 6/26/03).

Republicans not only had a substantial partisan edge, individual Republicans were NPR’s most popular sources overall, taking the top seven spots in frequency of appearance. George Bush led all sources for the month with 36 appearances, followed by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (8) and Sen. Pat Roberts (6). Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Secretary of State Colin Powell, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer all tied with five appearances each.

Senators Edward Kennedy, Jay Rockefeller and Max Baucus were the most frequently heard Democrats, each appearing four times. No nongovernmental source appeared more than three times. With the exception of Secretary of State Powell, all of the top 10 most frequently appearing sources were white male government officials.
and here's what the site found regarding think tank references. i don't know the factors that went into their classification of think tanks:
FAIR’s four-month study of NPR in 1993 found 10 think tanks that were cited twice or more. In a new four-month study (5/03–8/03), the list of think tanks cited two or more times has grown to 17, accounting for 133 appearances.

FAIR classified each think tank by ideological orientation as either centrist, right of center or left of center. Representatives of think tanks to the right of center outnumbered those to the left of center by more than four to one: 62 appearances to 15. Centrist think tanks provided sources for 56 appearances.

The most often quoted think tank was the centrist Brookings Institution, quoted 31 times; it was also the most quoted think tank in 1993. It was followed by 19 appearances by the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies and 17 by the centrist Council on Foreign Relations. The most frequently cited left-of-center organization was the Urban Institute, with eight appearances.

Diversity among think tank representatives was even more lopsided than the ideological spread, with women cited only 10 percent of the time, and people of color only 3 percent. Only white men were quoted more than twice, the most frequent being Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (8 appearances), Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings (7) and E.J. Dionne, also of Brookings (6).
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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and if you go here, you'll see NPR's ombudsman response. some highlights:

Brookings avoids describing itself as either left or right. It prefers to point to its "reform" roots going back to the early 20th century.

The Heritage Foundation on the other hand is open about its conservative roots and ideology.

Other think tanks whose experts are interviewed on NPR do not lend themselves to easy categorization. The Council on Foreign Relations has both conservatives and liberals. So does the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

My study showed that NPR interviewed 33 think-tank experts and only four came from explicitly conservative think tanks. Three came from think tanks that have a liberal reputation -- although they don't describe themselves as such. Most of the experts and other interviewees in this study don't easily lend themselves to a handy political label or shorthand.
It is important that the NPR audience hears from conservative thinkers and politicians. As NPR editor Ken Rudin once explained to me, the arrival of a Republican majority in Congress in 1994 for the first time in 40 years was a shock for most of the Washington press corps -- NPR included. Republicans had not been a factor for so long, journalists didn't know whom to approach inside the Republican caucus. Presumably neither did their listeners, viewers and readers.
I have criticized NPR in the past for its narrow reliance on a few bright men (and they are overwhelmingly male). I think that NPR is putting more conservatives on the radio than it used to. This is a good thing provided the balance is maintained.
in short:
- FAIR claims NPR has swung to the right
- NPR claims it's balanced
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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I've never heard of Kojo Nnamdi, so I'd imagine he's a local commentator. But as I said before, stick to the NPR news product. That's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. And maybe, if you approach this without being so "positive" that you know the result, you might even come to a different conclusion.
 

Xtremehkr

macrumors 68000
Jul 4, 2004
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NPR and NPR affiliates

There is a difference between NPR and the radio stations who broadcast NPR news. For instance, the local NPR affiliate here in the LA area is 89.3 KPCC. This radio station relies on donations from listeners, which in turn they use to purchase NPR programming. NPR charges based on the local stations listener base, that increases and decreases as listeners do.

While the NPR content is consistent, the local programming can vary depending on who owns and operates the station. Locally, KPCC has won more awards for journalistic excellence than any other media outlet.

I find that NPR provides balanced coverage. During interviews, probing questions are asked and followed up on, but it is not a "shootout" like you would find on the Hannity show. Hannity has an agenda, but let's face it, most guests have an agenda when they appear on the show and the host knows this. In order to get the information that the audience often already knows, the host has to probe the guest, especially when it is a subject that is not election friendly.

That shouldn't be considered bias, if a person is being particularly dishonest (as Dick Cheney was being during the VP debate) there is nothing wrong with pointing it out is there? In fact, that is the kind of analysis that I want from a media outlet, as long as it is applied evenly.
 

solvs

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Jun 25, 2002
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Xtremehkr said:
In fact, that is the kind of analysis that I want from a media outlet, as long as it is applied evenly.
Exactly. I have no problem with looking at both sides, and expect my newscasters to do the same. I am a fan of both McCain and Dean, but I can criticize both when they do something wrong. When I am waching or reading the news, if I can't tell who the person reporting is favoring and which side they lean, they are doing their jobs correctly IMO. Like when Dennis Miller used to make fun of someone (on either side) for doing things he now defends if they are conservatives.

Unfortunetly, someone who leans too far to the right will think Fox is fair and balanced, and anyone else is too liberal.
 

mischief

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Aug 1, 2001
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solvs said:
Like when Dennis Miller used to make fun of someone (on either side) for doing things he now defends if they are conservatives.
QUOTE]

It's a sad day when a good entertainer lets politics take the reigns and lead them away from their talents. Or in the case of the Baldwins..... Well.... they're just sad. :rolleyes:
 

SPG

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Jul 24, 2001
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In the shadow of the Space Needle.
I've been noticing the shift to the right of NPR over the past few years. The most blatant example is Juan Williams will come on and interview Dick cheney because the administration knows he'll let dick get away with the distortions or outright lies that any self respecting reporter would challenge. NPR will also allow adminsitration officials to come on and give very biased editorials with no rebuttal.
Despite this NPR still remains relatively centrist and would be considered right wing when compared to many other countries.
NPR affiliates will play some real lefty shows like alternative radio
You should give 'em a listen every now and then, might open your mind to some new possibilities.
 

makisushi

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Original poster
Jul 15, 2004
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Northern VA
I am back, did you miss me? oh, you didn't even know I was gone? LOL

I was called to NYC for business, but I am back and ready to listen to NPR.

I will report my findings shortly.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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and this whole time, i thought you were doing the npr research. i pictured you quitting your job, sitting at home in front of the radio w/ a pad and pencil, furiously taking notes.

how wrong i was! :)
 

makisushi

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Original poster
Jul 15, 2004
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Northern VA
As much as I hate to do this... I have put in about one week of NPR listening, and could not really discern a strong bias of any kind. I listened to Morning Edition and All things Considered mostly, since these are daily shows. When the whole Las Vegas voting fiasco came out, I thought I was going to hit gold, but alas straight forward reporting.

I must concede at this point of my research, but if I do come across something about how liberal NPR is, I will report it here.


..and for another helping of crow.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Your candor in admitting that you did not find what you thought you'd find is very much appreciated. I suppose my next question to you should be, why did you think you'd find left-wing bias at NPR?
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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makisushi said:
could not really discern a strong bias of any kind.
thanks for taking the time for doing this, and thanks for the candor. as a side effect of all this npr listening, do you feel more informed?

maybe rower can sticky this thread.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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Rower_CPU said:
I'll take it under consideration - though I'm not sure makisushi would appreciate his crow eating being made so permanent. ;)
yes, but that's not why.

call me overly dramatic, but it's not often that we can come to an agreement on such an issue. imagine if we were able to establish "forum tenets", stickied, that we could point to instead of debating the same issue over and over.

of course, the requirements for such a tenet would be strict, but, for example, if we can pass the "NPR is not left-leaning" tenet, we can all point to it whenever someone uses that as the basis of an argument, or as a snippy aside.

forum participants would (informally) agree to hold the tenets as truths, or promise to direct tenet disagreement to a thread specifically for that purpose (a "tenet challenge" thread).

or maybe i should just get back to work :)
 

Rower_CPU

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Oct 5, 2001
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I understand your reasoning behind the request, but I'm not sure something so official as a sticky thread for each tenet is required.

What I would consider is creating a catch all sticky thread that points to "tenet challenge" discussions, such as this one. It would also be an effective way to quickly draw off-topic discussion into the tenet discussion threads and away from the topic at hand.

Thoughts?
 

trebblekicked

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Dec 30, 2002
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Rower_CPU said:
I understand your reasoning behind the request, but I'm not sure something so official as a sticky thread for each tenet is required.

What I would consider is creating a catch all sticky thread that points to "tenet challenge" discussions, such as this one. It would also be an effective way to quickly draw off-topic discussion into the tenet discussion threads and away from the topic at hand.

Thoughts?
"boo ya" comes to mind. great idea. go for it! :)
 

Durandal7

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Feb 24, 2001
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All media is biased. Those on the far-left will whine about how they don't pound Bush enough and are GOP propaganda machines. Those on the far-right will complain about how they are all closet pinkos.

I find the best way to determine the leaning of an outlet is to examine statistics on their viewerships. If Republican viewers far out-number Democrats, I say it's safe to call a Conservative bias (Fox News). If Democrats far out-number Republicans, it's fair to call it liberal biased (CNN, NPR).

That seems to me to be the most objective method. If at first glance you think an outlet is completely unbiased, it's usually just more in line with your personal views.
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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Durandal7 said:
I find the best way to determine the leaning of an outlet is to examine statistics on their viewerships.
why? i get my news from sources which are informative. i listen to NPR, which makisushi declared straight up unbiased journalism (care to take the NPR challenge, durandal?), because it's in-depth and informative. i read the Economist for the same reason. would you call it liberal because *I* read it? i often don't agree w/ their opinions, but boy, they're reasoned and well-researched.

after makisushi's NPR findings, how can you possibly sit there and declare NPR liberal biased? i call that your own bias. listen to their news and point out their bias or drop your unfounded assertions.
 

pdham

macrumors member
Jan 28, 2003
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Madison
I have seen alot of talk about media bias, so I thought I would give you what know on the subject. I am just finishing up my degree in Journalism and I spent over a year as an undergrad working on a media research project with Phd students. We specifically looked at the coverage of the approach to the begining of the war in Iraq. We examined newspapers from all over the world in 12 different languages (we used native speakers to code those papers). We looked at source use, source number, source percentage and diversification of sources. We also analyzed location of reporting, framing and how this all ties into media ownership. Our research group got two papers published by a national media conference in 2002. I am not telling you all this to brag, but so no one will ask me to back up my findings with a link, you are going to have to trust me as the authority on my own research :)

So, what would I say about media bias after spending so much time qualitatively and quantitatvely analyzing it. The answer is media bias is a different species than most people understand. The numbers of our research (I dont have them handy so no specifics) show a great tendency (I think it was around 76%) of American outlets used "official sources" to construct thiet stories. That means WHite House officials, Bush himself, etc. This obviously leads to a towing of the party line. So, why don't I scream conservitive bias then? (and I am not talking FOX news.. that station wasnt even worth our time) The answer is, as we dug it seemed to become clear that it wasnt a matter or outlet ideology, but a matter or resources willing to be spent. By this I mean, news outlets are a profit oriented business first (right or wrong) and they want the story with the least amount of monetary effort. This means going to where the information is plentiful. Now, the government is not stupid, they recognize this and aptly form their information desemination around the newsmakers schedual. FOr example press conferences are often help a few hours before deadline. We came to this conclusion with a very complicated analysis of source use in relation to location of reporting and media outlet expenditure on news stuff... to complicated to type out in a post. At anyrate my point is the bias comes from a desire to make easy, cheap news and the conservative white house will gladly give them what they want. I am not saying that if Kerry wins we will see a wholesale reversal, but expect a change in the apperance of "bias" in the media if we have a more "liberal" white house.

I hope that made some sense. I can expand more if you have specific questions. But be warned I wont be online until Monday.

Paul
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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thanks, paul, very interesting.

what, if anything, did you discover about media outlets that tend to do more in-depth pieces? (i'm thinking NPR, the economist, various public TV shows, et. al.)

and are any of your studies online?
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Good stuff, Paul. Right out the box, I don't except the premise of the statement "all media is biased." This is an argument carefully constructed by the Right over the last couple of decades with the expressed purpose of undermining the traditional sources of information and replacing them with (for want of a better word), propaganda. I think it was stated best by one of the commentators in "Outfoxed," when he observed that the major revolution in the American media today is that the public is now comfortable with being propagandized -- and that voluntary propaganda is the most dangerous and insidious kind. Some time back I heard one of the more prominent conservative think-tankers (wish I could remember which one) say that he thought this process had gone too far. It's created an environment of cynicism and mistrust of all media -- the new expectation of viewers toward the media being to confirm existing prejudices instead of exposing them to uncomfortable, and often complex, facts. Obviously this is bad news for the Republic.

I think this also why it's become an article of conservative faith to especially encourage a feeling of distrust of news outlets like NPR, which after is one of the few media sources still engaging in long-form journalism (nearly a dead art form). To put it bluntly, information is the enemy of mind-control. "Don't even listen," is what the gurus of the Right have been saying for years about NPR, and some are bound to believe it.
 

solvs

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Jun 25, 2002
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Durandal7 said:
I find the best way to determine the leaning of an outlet is to examine statistics on their viewerships. If Republican viewers far out-number Democrats, I say it's safe to call a Conservative bias (Fox News). If Democrats far out-number Republicans, it's fair to call it liberal biased (CNN, NPR).
But that theory has just been proven wrong... by a conservative no less.

As an independant, I try to look for those who would look equally critically of both sides based on what they have said or done. I seldom find that. I tended not to look toward NPR somewhat because I also believed they were liberal biased... and because it bores me sometimes. My Father is pretty liberal, and he listens to them. I guess we were both wrong then, you and I, in expecting them to lean to the left. And CNN? Maybe they're liberal, but they also have Robert Novak and Tucker Carlson. 2 very conservative people. The only person I could kind-of see as liberal (or even independant) is Alan Colmes, but opposite Sean Hannity, anyone looks liberal.

I like MSNBC (even if it is M$) because they often seem pretty fair. Despite Pat Buchannan and Dennis Miller - who used to be funny when he made fun of both sides, but now defends Bush for mistakes he would have crucified Clinton (and Bush Sr) for in the past. Jon Stewart is a little left leaning, but he will usually try to stay non-partisan to get both sides, and I think the Daily Show is funny so I watch him.

The world is not black and white, and the good thing about liberals is that they will criticize their own if they do something stupid. I just wish I saw that more from the conservatives. As Bill Maher says, I would be a Republican if only they would.