Thursday, September 16, 2021

Frank Newman: Media bias

Nothing like a survey to prove what we all know to be true: The media is biased.

A group called MediaBias has released the results of media monitoring for the period Oct 1 2019 to Aug 31 2021.

They say, "MediaBias is a service offered as a public good, that measures political bias in the New Zealand media, using a machine learning model that evaluates the sentiment of sentences from news articles and blog posts containing the names of Members of Parliament (MPs) and political parties."

Of the 15 media outlets they tracked, 13 were biased to the left. Only two showed bias to the right and both were blogs. All of the "mainstream" media was biased to the left.

And who was the most biased of them all? Of the mainstream media the most left-learning were:

1= TVNZ (-10.1) - the most favourable (pro) coverage was for Labour (8.9). The least favourable (anti) was for National (9.2).

1= Radio NZ (-10.1) - pro Labour (8.3), anti National (9.0).

3. Newshub (-9.9) - pro Labour (8.4) anti ACT (10.9).

4. Newstalk ZB (-8.9) - pro Labour (7.8), anti National (7.5).

5. Stuff (-7.3) - pro Labour (7.4), anti NZ First (9.1).

6. NZ Herald (-5.2) - pro Labour (5.0), anti NZ First (4.6).

So in summary:

  • TVNZ, Radio NZ and Newshub are the most pro Labour.
  • TVNZ and Radio NZ are the most anti National.
  • Newshub is the most anti ACT.
  • Stuff and the NZ Herald are the most anti NZ First.

So why is the mainstream media so biased?  

Undoubtedly reporting will be influenced to some degree by the fortunes or misfortunes of the political parties themselves (failed leadership coups and the like). Or it may of course reflect the political bias of those controlling the content, or maybe the political views of those providing the funding. Is it a coincidence that the most pro-Labour media are those that could not survive without funding from the Labour government? Or is it just that journalism is an industry that attracts lefties? Or is it because journalists who don't toe a woke line get cancelled?

The left-wing also dominates the blog space. On the left were, in order of bias:

  •  The Standard (-13.9) - pro Green, anti National.
  • The Daily Blog (-11.9), pro Green, anti National
  • The Spinoff (-8.8), pro Labour and anti National and NZ First.

On the right:

  • Kiwiblog (+12.1), pro National, anti NZ First
  • The BDF (+6.8), pro ACT, anti Labour.


While the blogs are usually upfront about their advocacy stance, the mainstream media are much less candid and continue to swear allegiance to journalistic principles of accuracy, fairness and balance. Perhaps they should also have regard to the guidelines issued by the Media Council which includes the comment that "in articles of controversy or disagreement, a fair voice must be given to the opposition view".  

The full survey results may be seen HERE >>>

Frank Newman, a political commentator and investment analyst, is a former local body councillor.


Janine said...

Regarding New Zealand tv, radio and newspapers. People have free choice. Do not watch or buy it. I have not done so for two years and am much the happier for it. My main reason being that I want news and facts not opinion and outright nonsense. I now get my information from Sky News Australia and others. If our media don't get the advertising revenue and the support from the government they might have to re-think their strategy.

This could be a way to return more balance to our media. Unfortunately, people just whinge and moan about it so I have no sympathy.

There are many ways to seek out information in this day and age.

DeeM said...

It's great to know officially what we already knew.

Ray S said...

Just goes to show what money can buy.

Ian P said...

Given this survey is over an almost 2 year period, it would be interesting to see data for the 11 months since last year's election.

Frank Newman said...

Thanks for the comment Ian. The graphs on the right-hand side of the survey page (go to it using the link above) show the trend.

What I did notice but did not mention in the body of my text is the NZHerald is trending to a more left wing bias. That could be as a result of them launching Kāhu News, which one could speculate may have been in response to the $55m Sustainable Journalism fund launched in February this year. TVNZ is also trending more left-wing in its bias.

5th generation Kiwi said...

As a media professional who spent nearly 40 years in radio and print media I'm deeply saddened and depressed by the shocking media standards in NZ today. Woke, Left, Marxist it all applys to today's embarrassing media. As the Nazi's and Stalin's lackeys found out , control the media and you can pretty much brainwash an ignorant proportion of the population. This Labour Government has failed in just about everything except its infiltration and cunning control of the media.