The most popular past time among people who care about the news and media is discussing how biased it is.
It’s not. Here’s why:
- Almost all media in North America publishes on a for-profit basis.
- Profitability requires providing audiences with what they want.
- All editorial agendas are driven by satisfying the needs of the reader.
- Looking at the media is like looking in a mirror. It serves up to you its best estimate of exactly what you want.
- Metadata from digital publishing gives publishers ever better data upon which to base their editorial decisions.
- People who say the New York Times is biased, are poor readers. Journalism 101 requires presenting the other side of the story, which the paper scrupulously adheres to.
- Many who complain about the bias of the media have never worked in the media.
Another unappreciated facet of perceived media bias is that few journalists have the time for it. The chart shows on an inflation adjust basis, newspaper advertising revenue has retreated to 1950 levels.
To put this into perspective, consider when Google filed for an IPO on August 3, 2004, its total revenues were $2.6 billion on an annualized basis. In their 2014 annual filing, Google showed expenses of $49.5 billion. As a result, if Google’s revenues retreated to 2004 levels, they would report a loss a $46.9 billion.
These same forces are playing out in traditional publishing and newsrooms have been gutted. As a result, reporters and producers have little time or resources for bias. Outliers clearly exist, however, the trend in revenues, is the primary driver of editorial agendas.