Think the Media Leans Left? Not So Fast
Plenty of bias, but it all balances out, writes Paul Farhi
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2012 8:12 AM CDT
Rachel Maddow on a panel discussion at the University of Chicago in Chicago on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(Newser) – Now more than ever people are convinced that the media tends to "favor one side"—77% of people said so in a recent Pew Research Center poll, up from 53% in 1985. But is reporting really becoming more favorable to the left or right? Not really, writes Paul Farhi in the Washington Post. Or, to be more precise, all the bias tends to cancel each other out. "The net effect is zero," said a communications professor who examined 99 studies of campaign bias over six decades. What has changed, though, is the perception of bias, and Farhi digs into the reasons.

Among them: There are more media outlets than ever, particularly "champions" of the left and right, like the Huffington Post and Drudge. "This means your chance of running into 'news' that seems biased has increased exponentially." Formerly, a few watchdog groups kept an eye out for bias; now, everyone from politicians to the Daily Show is on the lookout. "All that scrutiny of the press may suggest an inescapable conclusion: There’s something wrong with the news media," writes Farhi." All the time." But there is a little bit of good news, notes Farhi: Pew's survey found that people ranked the news media as their No. 1 source of trusted information ... ahead of the Obama administration, corporations, and Congress. Click to read his entire column.