The Dim-Post

May 12, 2014

A quick thought on media bias

Filed under: media,Politics — danylmc @ 6:15 am

One of the unending preoccupations of the political blogosphere is media bias. Does the right-wing corporate/left-wing liberal media favor certain parties or ideologies? The assumption is that media bias is hugely important, but this year I’ve been interested in the New Zealand Herald’s glowing coverage of the ACT Party: our largest newspaper gives ACT – a party that often fails to get the endorsement of 1 voter in a thousand in the polls and wouldn’t exist without the electorate seat rort – more coverage than all the rest of the minor parties combined, virtually all of it lovingly positive and yet ACT is still bouncing around between 0 and 0.5%. All that overt support from a major media outlet seems like it’s worthless.

Anyway, today they detail ACT’s ‘alternative’ budget, which was released on Saturday to withering scorn from at least one economist. Naturally there’s no criticism or balancing quote in Audrey Young’s story. (As a special media-bias bonus, try and find a news story by Young in the Herald’s archive which (a) covers a National government policy and contains a balancing quote from the opposition or (b) covers a Labour/Greens policy and does not lead with a quote from the National government.)



  1. TV 3 anyone????

    Comment by Stephen x — May 12, 2014 @ 6:33 am

  2. “covers a Labour/Greens policy and does not lead with a quote from the National government”
    – tvnz ‘news’ likes pulling that one as well.

    Comment by Sacha — May 12, 2014 @ 7:00 am

  3. OK so I know criticising ACT’s budget is like shooting fish in barrel but how come old age pensioners get to keep most of their money whereas students, young families, the poor etc get shafted? Shouldn’t they at least be idealogically consistent and cut ALL the benefits?

    A thought – maybe stories on ACT are comment bait? Perhaps they get a big response because everybody can see how mad they are except one or two elderly white men who have the time to write hundreds of comments on Herald website.

    Comment by lucyjh — May 12, 2014 @ 7:24 am

  4. In support of your concerns about the left-wing liberal bias of the MSM, there is not a word about Act’s alternative budget in the print edition of the Herald, nor was there in Herald on Sunday or SST. Don’t we want our political parties to issue detailed policy?

    Comment by Matthew Hooton — May 12, 2014 @ 7:29 am

  5. Young’s bias invites the observation that her dad was a National government cabinet minister and she is the sister of current MP Jonathan Young. Actually, while we are in this new Oravida age of grace and favour isn’t anyone else disturbed at the sheer incestuousness of all these Bradfords, Sabins and Youngs reporting on their dads/brothers/Mum’s ex-party? You can’t tell me that all these off-spring are coincidentially of such prodigeous talent that they got there entirely on the basis of their own merit.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 12, 2014 @ 7:37 am

  6. “there is not a word about Act’s alternative budget” – about time their coverage matched their vote share.

    Comment by Sacha — May 12, 2014 @ 7:47 am

  7. Oh and in terms of ACT coverage, anyone who reads the Roughan and O’Sullivan knows there is a significant rear guard of completely bonkers ACToids in lofty places at the Herald.

    As lucyjh says up thread, ACT is good click-bait, but I guess the mad philospher king of ACT also matters because he give political voice to the views a significant number of equally crazy neo-liberal masters of the universe in our managerial class, whose wealth allows them to wield power out of all proportion to their numbers.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 12, 2014 @ 7:48 am

  8. And on cue – the Herald’s editorial looks like a verbatim National party press release. in fact, I genuinely checked to see if it was labelled as such.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 12, 2014 @ 8:17 am

  9. As a special media-bias bonus

    Serious question: don’t we have a Press Council for this kind of thing?

    Comment by Minestrone Cowboy (@j20r) — May 12, 2014 @ 9:10 am

  10. You can’t tell me that all these off-spring are coincidentially of such prodigeous talent that they got there entirely on the basis of their own merit.

    No coincidence at all – it’s hardly surprising that people who grow up in politically active households go on to form an interest in politics, no matter which way it’s expressed.

    Comment by Minestrone Cowboy (@j20r) — May 12, 2014 @ 9:14 am

  11. Kudos to the ACT comms people for punching above their weight in terms of press coverage for their party. The Green party comms are either not up to it or need to pick up their game rather than whining through their proxy.

    Comment by King Kong — May 12, 2014 @ 10:20 am

  12. ACT may be barely 1% in the polls, but would be far higher in Herald advertisers.

    One thing they dont explain is current government funding is around $8000 per student for state secondary schools, ACTs charter schools would be more than $18000 per student.
    Which allows them to offer such ‘nice to haves’ as minibus rides to school for all students, and free lunches for all.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — May 12, 2014 @ 10:24 am

  13. @6: What’s the possibility that ACT’s vote share is so small because of the publicity they get? A newspaper-reading public have looked into the ACT abyss and decided to step away quickly.

    Comment by Ataahua — May 12, 2014 @ 2:51 pm

  14. The Herald has been unbalanced editorially in favour of N/ACT for a very long time. It’s the main reason I don’t subscribe. I may have to suffer propaganda but I refuse to PAY for it.

    Comment by Steve W — May 12, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

  15. There’s no way of knowing how low ACT’s polling might sink without special treatment from and the printed version. Perhaps ACT would become so meaningless that it wouldn’t even get Epsom.

    Comment by nigelsagentinthefield — May 12, 2014 @ 10:56 pm

  16. Minestrone Cowboy: Roughan *is* on the Press Council.

    Comment by DeepRed (@DeepRed6502) — May 13, 2014 @ 12:54 am

  17. Here’s the Herald’s politics section from this morning: all hail glorious leader

    Comment by Oh Busby — May 13, 2014 @ 5:46 am

  18. Hmmm, htlm markup may not have worked – have a url instead

    Comment by Oh Busby — May 13, 2014 @ 5:47 am

  19. Need to ask what the counterfactual is though. Perhaps if they didn’t get all this coverage it’d be more likely the public would be outraged by the elecorate seat stichup because they’d see ACT as a crazy fringe party. Or not. Part of the reason it’s the subject of endless beltway BBQ discussion is that there isn’t anything really solid to prove it one way or another.

    Comment by BeShakey — May 13, 2014 @ 6:04 pm

  20. Interesting how the media has just parroted Key’s line that Winston’s question in the House was rambling and incoherent. I’ve just watched the footage and his questions are quite clear, albeit with somewhat flowery language. Lockwood Smith running interference for the Prime Minister today has got to be one of his worst (best?) performances and that’s really saying something.

    Key’s (in)ability to understand the question stems from the impossible position he has created for himself over Collins, nothing more.

    Comment by Rob — May 13, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

  21. Rob, Lockwood hasn’t been Speaker of the house since Feb 2013. He was the finest Speaker we’ve had in quite some time.

    This, however, is pretty much par for the course for David Carter, who is a useless sack of shit.

    Comment by @simonpnz — May 14, 2014 @ 8:59 am

  22. Oh man, my bad. They’re both bland middle-aged white men… forgive me?

    Comment by Rob — May 14, 2014 @ 10:32 am

  23. Being lumped in with an intellectual titan like David Carter is pretty insulting to bland, middle-aged white men everywhere.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 14, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

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