Bias, what bias?

My post yesterday about liberals being dissatisfied with media sent Swedish blogs into a buzz (1, 2, 3 and 4). The point I was trying to make was that when liberals say they are not satisfied with the media, I would like to hear why. One can only assume that it comes from a perceived leftist media bias, but I want to hear more convincing arguments.

I argued yesterday that most leading papers in Sweden are politically to the right. Some argued that this is only reflected in the op-ed pages but on the other hand, that is where the heavy opinion building material is published. And for example Dagens Nyheter states that “The paper is being edited in a liberal and open minded spirit.” Yes, the paper, the whole paper.

Of course I am aware of the surveys from recent years that show that journalists are voting to the left of the public. The interesting question is, is that being reflected in the reporting. No, says media professor Kent Asp of JMG (Journalist School at Gothenburg University) in his official media report of 2002. Asp says that during the last election “the right wing parties got more favourable media coverage than the social democrats and its two support parties”.

Media paper Journalisten explains: “[this] should be interpreted as that the right got more exposure, more positive attention and a larger impact for their key topics. The right got most positive treatment in Rapport and Aktuellt [on Swedish public service TV] followed by TV4 news, Dagens Nyheter, Göteborgs-Posten, Svenska Dagbladet and Expressen.”

Journalisten continues: “Examining all the media in the report shows that the social democrats got the least favourable coverage of all parties.”

Another example. Dick Erixon writes on his blog on Oct 29, regarding the Cecilia Uddén topic, that “[…] something that media organisations want to avoid at any cost, then it is to give right wing voices space in media.” Might very well be so, but I’m not convinced. A survey performed by journalist Maria-Pia Boëthius showed that the influential programme “God morgon världen” on Swedish Radio during 1999 had 63 per cent right wing panelists and 37 per cent left wing. And that is in a medium that is supposed to be unbiased.

Per Wirtén writes in Arena: “Then something odd happens, namely that many journalists vote to the left, but they write liberal. It is quite interesting. Instead of polling journalists’ voting habits, you should examine their values.”

It is so easy to claim there is a leftist media bias. If you can prove it, it would be easier for me and others to believe it.