Wednesday, 06 July 2011

Editorial Points of View and the National Governors Association

Written by  Bill Hahn

As the public relations manager for The John Birch Society, the publisher of The New American magazine, I received an e-mail this morning from the senior press secretary for the National Governors Association, in response to my question to her asking why The New American was not going to be able to cover the annual meeting of the National Governors Association. I was told, essentially, that we were biased (as opposed to other "objective" news media):

The National Governors Association has specific guidelines for credentialing individuals as media. In your own words on the website you state that the New American articles are written with an “editorial point of view” rather than in an objective manner. Additionally, newsletters and magazines produced by organizations do not qualify for media credentials.

Because this is contrary to our registration policy, we are unable to register you for the Annual Meeting.

After I finished shaking my head and chuckling, I began thinking of my college classes that dealt with reporting only the facts without any slant and the actual real-world application of it. Having worked with media people for about 16 years, I have met very few who are ever objective. And if they were, their editors certainly weren’t.

As one of our own senior editorial staff members exclaimed, “Who is she kidding? All magazines have an editorial slant. Most newspapers and magazines have a left-wing slant. The worst offenders are the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, and Time magazine. I believe the Post even acknowledged its leftist slant and is trying to add a bit of conservative dialogue. Time magazine's recent cover story about the Constitution takes a very strong political stance. And most magazines and newspaper are owned by organizations. Are these all banned from covering the Governors' convention?”

Based on surveys from over 25 years, the Media Research Center published “The Liberal Media Exposed.” It found, in part:

In 1996, as a follow-up to a 1988 survey, the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) surveyed 1,037 reporters at 61 newspapers of all sizes across the nation, and found that newsrooms were more ideologically unrepresentative than they had been in the late 1980s. While the percentage of journalists calling themselves “Democrat or liberal” essentially held steady (going from 62 to 61 percent of those surveyed), the percentage saying they were “Republican or conservative” dropped from 22 percent to just 15 percent of journalists. The ASNE report, The Newspaper Journalists of the ’90s, also revealed that bigger — presumably more influential — newspapers had the most liberal staffs.

Granted the survey is a bit old, but has media gotten any more "objective" or "conservative"? The Media Research Center operates NewsBusters, an online presence that exists to expose liberal media bias. That site is continuously refreshed with new examples of media's liberal lean. In addition, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting writes on its website:

The owners and managers of dominant media outlets generally share the background, worldview and income bracket of political elites. Top news executives and celebrity reporters frequently socialize with government officials. The most powerful media companies routinely make large contributions to both major political parties, while receiving millions of dollars in return in the form of payments for running political ads.

One only need look as far as the Internet or TV to point to “dominant media outlets.”

Even a 2005 UCLA study has concluded that “almost all major media outlets tilt to the left” (and UCLA is not a dominion ruled by conservatives).

It also stated:

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said coauthor Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

Major media's consumers, too, have acknowledged the strong bias of journalism. The Pew Research Center claimed in 2009 that “the public’s assessment of the accuracy of news stories is now at its lowest level in more than two decades of Pew Research surveys, and Americans’ views of media bias and independence now match previous lows.”

It appears that the American public knows about media bias, so why doesn’t the National Governors Association?

The New American does not toe the liberal line, and neither does Fox News (well … mostly). Are they not considered credentialed media?

The New American’s editorial point of view is guided by our support of the U.S. Constitution and the principles upon which our Constitution is based. Specifically, we want to restore and retain the values and vision that made America great — limited government under the Constitution, the freedoms our Constitution guarantees, and the personal responsibility a free people must exercise to stay free. In the area of foreign policy, our editorial point of view is based on avoiding foreign entanglements and going to war only when necessary to defend our country and citizens. We always approach the news honestly, relying on facts and reason to make our case and allowing the chips to fall where they may. Our purpose is encapsulated by the slogan appearing on the cover of the print magazine: “That freedom shall not perish.” It’s a purpose that all elected officials should uphold, including and especially Governors.

We’re not holding our breath for credentials for the convention, but as this article demonstrates, we certainly intend to cover the event. Check back for more coverage during the event (July 15-17), but probably not the coverage the NGA is hoping for.

Obama toasting the chair of the National Governors Association, Chris Gregoire: AP Images

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