An Interesting Bias: Lessons from an Academic’s Year as a Reporter

David Niven, University of Cincinnati

Young Radio AnnouncerMost rigorous studies conclude that there is no consistent partisan or ideological bias in the mainstream American news media. This suggests a natural but little-asked question: Why isn’t there more bias in the media? A year spent working as a journalist suggests a possible answer: Advancing a political perspective does not help secure a place on the front page. Instead, the core incentive for a journalist is to be interesting. Interesting work that reveals the essence of a situation garners a more prominent spot in the newspaper and all its associated benefits. Because “interesting” sources are found on both the left and the right, among Republicans and Democrats, balance does not require a Solomonic commitment to fairness. Rather, balance can be achieved merely as a by-product of the effort to be interesting.

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PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 45 / Issue 02 / April 2012, pp 259-264

Copyright © American Political Science Association 2012