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Department of Corrections: Gooding versus Murdoch

John Gooding puts on his Hazmat suit and wades through Rupert Murdoch’s Twitter feed

“Huge lack of balance in UK media with 8000 BBC left wing journalists far outnumbering all national print journalists.”

Last week Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of News Limited, casually dropped that bombshell in his Twitter feed. “BBC massive taxpayer funded mouthpiece for tiny circulation leftist Guardian,” he continued in a later tweet.

This man runs a company which prints over half of all newspapers sold in Australia.

To tell the truth Murdoch is probably not that far off in his jab at the BBC, though where he plucked the figure from is a little mysterious. Journalists are in general more left-wing than average. No, the problem is instead with the word ‘balance’ and how Murdoch chooses to define it.

At heart, Murdoch’s claimed measure of balance is either mind-bogglingly ignorant or an incredibly cynical lie. If a poll of journalists’ political views indicates how balanced the publication they write for is, then the Australian media industry must be very unbalanced indeed.

Researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) polled journalists across Australia and found that vast majorities at the ABC, Fairfax and News Limited declared that they intended to vote for either the Greens or Labor in the federal election this year

And yet, somehow, despite having three of the biggest news producers in the country beset on all sides by hordes of leftists, almost every major metro newspaper endorsed Tony Abbott and the Coalition. How are front page gems like “Kick This Mob Out” and “Australia Needs Tony” possible in such a hostile climate?

Could it be that the editorial focus of a newspaper is not decided solely by the views of the rank-and-file?

As an example of another relevant factor, the research by USC also found that senior editors were more likely to favour the Coalition than the reporters they managed, and had political views that were more in line with the Australian public. These employees also have far more control over what agendas and issues the paper pursues.

Answering the question of whether an entire nation’s media is balanced or not is hard to do in entire research papers, let alone Twitter’s 140 characters, and you certainly can’t work it out by pointing out the political leanings of the individual reporters. Murdoch’s generalisation about employees of the BBC demonstrates nothing, even if true. Yes, collectively their journalists are probably left-wing, but so are his.


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