Research ArticleSOCIAL SCIENCES

There is no liberal media bias in which news stories political journalists choose to cover

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Science Advances  01 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 14, eaay9344
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay9344

Abstract

Is the media biased against conservatives? Although a dominant majority of journalists identify as liberals/Democrats and many Americans and public officials frequently decry supposedly high and increasing levels of media bias, little compelling evidence exists as to (i) the ideological or partisan leanings of the many journalists who fail to answer surveys and/or identify as independents and (ii) whether journalists’ political leanings bleed into the choice of which stories to cover that Americans ultimately consume. Using a unique combination of a large-scale survey of political journalists, data from journalists’ Twitter networks, election returns, a large-scale correspondence experiment, and a conjoint survey experiment, we show definitively that the media exhibits no bias against conservatives (or liberals for that matter) in what news that they choose to cover. This shows that journalists’ individual ideological leanings have unexpectedly little effect on the vitally important, but, up to this point, unexplored, early stage of political news generation.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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