Monday, June 26, 2023

David Farrar: Media Bias Exposed

I want to talk about media bias in New Zealand. Now by media bias, I don’t mean that there is a cabal of journalists deliberately being biased, as you sometimes see in the United States. The bias I mean is unconscious bias, where many journalists have a worldview that makes it impossible for them to fairly report on values, beliefs and policies supported by people, not on the left of politics.

It has generally been accepted in many countries that more journalists lean left than right, but until recently, we have not had any hard data for New Zealand. Fortunately, the Worlds of Journalism Study in late 2022 has now provided some useful data through their survey of working journalists.

The study found a massive 81% of NZ journalists classified their political views as left of centre and only 15% as right of centre. So rather than have a 1:1 ratio of left-leaning journalists to right-leaning journalists, you have a 5:1 ratio.

This is in stark contrast to the New Zealand population. The 2020 election survey by Auckland University found 28% of respondents identified as left of centre and 43% as right of centre. So journalists are very unrepresentative of New Zealand in terms of political views.

New Zealand journalists were also far more likely to hold extreme left views. 20% of journalists said their political views are hard or extreme left, compared to 6% of adults. On the other side of the spectrum, only 1% said their political views are hard or extreme right compared to 10% of the adult population.

In the last few years we have also had the $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund. This fund in no way requires journalists to report favourably on the government, but it does require journalism recipients to subscribe to the government’s views on the Treaty of Waitangi, which means that debate on the hugely important issue of the role of the Treaty of Waitangi is almost entirely absent from most of the New Zealand media.

A poll by my company Curia in March 2022 found that 59% of New Zealanders believed government funding of private media companies undermines the independence of media. This view was shared by people across the political spectrum by a majority of National and Act voters and a plurality of Labour and Green voters. The same poll found only 24% of New Zealanders support the Public Interest Journalism Fund.

The third and final piece of data of interest also comes from a Curia poll, which was conducted in early April 2023. It asked New Zealanders to state whether they thought various media outlets leaned right or leaned left or were neutral. The net leans left (so left-leaning minus right-leaning) for each outlet were:
  1. Stuff +18%
  2. The Spinoff +15%
  3. One News +14%
  4. Newshub +13%
  5. Radio New Zealand +7%
  6. NZ Herald +0%
  7. NewstalkZB -37%
  8. The Platform -30%
So the only major media outlet seen as broadly neutral was the NZ Herald. The two talkback stations were seen as leaning right, while both main television networks, Radio New Zealand, Stuff and The Spinoff, were seen as leaning left.

It was fascinating that a greater proportion of New Zealanders regard Stuff as leaning further to the left than The Spinoff.

This partly explains why trust in the media is so low in New Zealand. A poll late last year by Dynata found only 30% trust the media. I suspect it will keep dropping unless the media industry recognises it has a problem.

To many New Zealanders the media are not seen as disinterested reporters. They are seen as employees of companies with ideological agendas who not only don’t understand New Zealanders who are not left-leaning but show active hostility towards them.

In countries like the UK and the US, newspapers and broadcasters quite openly lean left or lean right. I regard that as preferable to the situation where a newspaper or broadcaster proclaims they are neutral, yet they are not.

It has become very fashionable for media companies (and non-media companies) to have diversity statements, expressing their desire to have newsrooms that reflect the ethnic diversity of New Zealand. It would be nice if, one day, they also expressed a desire to have newsrooms that reflect the political diversity of New Zealand.

David Farrar runs Curia Market Research, a specialist opinion polling and research agency, and the popular Kiwiblog. He previously worked in the Parliament for eight years, serving two National Party Prime Ministers and three Opposition Leaders. This article was originally published by The Common Room and is published here with kind permission.


Robert Arthur said...

I am staggered by the modest proportion who consider the media to be left biassed. And in the case of the Herald no majority!! (See my recent comments of Herald handling of response to an article advocating te reo, not a right wing aspiration). The astonishing majority public viewpoint is proof of the effectiveenss of the msm in presenting a biassed view.

John S said...

Don't know why we even talk about MSM in this country. Full of wide-eyed young left leaning dorks who have an inner belief that their opinions, biased or unbiased, are what I want to hear. They certainly aren't interested in my opinions so what makes them think that I might be interested in theirs. Used to be a religious reader of the morning newspapers and MS television etc to find out what is going on in the world. Now its alternative media such as this and other forums, as well as off-shore television news etc. Don't they realise that they are increasingly irrelevant and disappearing down the proverbial plug-hole. Can't come soon enough.....

Anonymous said...

We have censorship by omission - important things that are deliberately omitted, or minimized.
For example, today - the fact that Hipkins hypocritically takes two Air Force 757 aircraft to China gets the briefest line at the bottom of the Herald article, and not at all in Stuff.
Trust the media, yeah right

Anonymous said...

The problem with MSM is that it is Corporate Controlled and has been forever.
They tell us what they are told to tell us, i.e. propaganda. The Tel Lie Vision is the greatest propaganda delivery devise ever invented, and explains why the globalists are getting away with what they have been doing in the shadows for so long, and also mass formation.

Anonymous said...

Agree with John S comments. The media are literally screwing themselves and then wasting column inches telling us all how bad things are for the media business.
We don’t give a rats arse, there are many places where you can get news and not the biased opinionated rubbish put out by NZ journos.

Rob Beechey said...

Only the feeble minded pay any attention to what the MSM has to say. This govt was democratically elected but dispensed with democracy once in office. The first step these Marxists took was to develop a State controlled narrative. They blatantly bought the media to shape public opinion.
I believe the author is wrong to suggest that the NZ is not as bad as the States. Our media is exactly like States. Only those that recognise the corrupt ambitions of this unholy alliance will escape the bombardment of State controlled propaganda.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately from personal observation some well educated and supposedly intelligent members of my own family are still solidly addicted to MSM. It is unbelievable. There is outrage if I mention articles from this site or similar alternatives of news. It's like trying to break through some sort of mind control or hypnotic state.
What on earth does it take to break through such dreadful brainwashing ?

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ 9:59
Try getting your family to read books instead of MSM.
I recommend Martin Gurri, The Revolt of the Public.
Once you understand the power structure you can clearly see the influence