The complaint that the majority of journalists are left-wing (affiliated with progressive causes) and that the coverage is not as impartial as the vehicles claim may go beyond mere teasing or intuition of the news readers. In its most recent edition, one of the largest surveys carried out with Brazilian journalists shows that the overwhelming majority (81%) of those who answered about political convictions declared themselves to be leftists (52,8%) or center-left (96 %). On the other hand, only 4% of journalists said they were more to the right (1.4% on the right and 2.5% on the center-right). Even those who identify themselves as extreme left (2%) outnumber those who call themselves right. Only 0.1% classify themselves as far-right.
Older data already gave similar indications. In 2017, when rebutting an attack by the former mayor of São Paulo Fernando Haddad to the press, the then executive editor, now editorial director of Folha de S. Paulo, Sérgio Dávila, admitted that “the newsrooms are mostly formed by an intellectual elite of young progressive leftists” and that “the result was palpable in the pages of the newspaper, no matter how hard the professionals tried to enforce the principle of nonpartisanship, which is the pillar of Folha’s Editorial Project.”
According to Dávila, Folha’s newsroom had, at the time, 78% of journalists identified as center-left. “In 2013, in the second year of Haddad’s government, an internal census carried out by Datafolha attested that 55% of the journalists in the house considered themselves to be on the left, and 19% , center. Asked about how they placed the newspaper itself, 50% put him in the center, and 28%, on the left. Most adopted a liberal position in relation to abortion, homosexual rights and drugs, in numbers eloquently higher than those of the Brazilian population as a whole: 78% in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana and 96% in favor of civil union between homosexuals, before 77% and 29% of Brazilians, respectively”, he explained.
Defining Haddad as possibly “the most pampered mayor by journalists in the entire history of São Paulo”, the executive editor added that “ because of these characteristics , found fertile ground in the newsrooms the agenda ‘São Paulo, Nova Amsterdam’”, by PT, which brought proposals such as the “bicycling of cycle lanes and cycle lanes” and the payment of wages to crack users.
At the same time, in December 2017, a survey carried out by Instituto Paraná Pesquisas at the request of Gazeta do Povo showed that there was no dominant political position in Brazil. According to the research, there was a technical tie in the choice of the Brazilian for the right, left, center and for an independent stance. All positions had, then, just over 20% of the preferences, and they matched within a margin of error of 2%. In other words, the environment positioned more to the left of the newsrooms, evidenced by Dávila, did not reflect a general trend among the population. And the agendas worked, therefore, could be detached from the desires of the citizens.
“The majority of right-wing journalists seek to analyze, without confusing it with opinion. Those on the left are militants, with a few exceptions, like Fernando Gabeira, who manages to make an independent analysis of his position, or William Waack, for example. But most of this generation under 41 years has a biased view and confuses analysis with personal positions. This impoverishes most of journalism”, analyzes philosophy professor Bruna Torlay, content director of Revista Esmeril.
Torlay extends the criticism to national vehicles that, in his opinion, they lose by not making room for journalists with divergent views. “There are few newspapers that have journalists from the spectrum associated with the right, whose characteristic is not to spread forced narratives about the left. These vehicles are also usually plural and open space for center-left people, which is not the case in others, which only hire center-left professionals”, she says.
Science can explain this behavior. A study conducted by social psychologists Jesse Graham (University of Southern California), Brian Nosek (University of Virginia) and Jonathan Haidt showed that conservatives understand the left better than the other way around. The researchers asked more than 2,000 people to respond to a questionnaire, with three types of political opinions: their own, pretending to be typical progressives/leftists, and pretending to be typical conservatives/rightists. As a result, moderates and conservatives were more accurate in playing the roles of other groups. And the more progressive the respondents were, the more inaccurate their predictions were about how other groups think.
Marxist matrix in education
Another possible explanation for the phenomenon of leftism in newsrooms comes from academic training itself. In the United States, for example, universities lean to the left. In 2017, the Young America’s Foundation stated that for every conservative speaker, there were on the other side of the political spectrum. In some of the most prestigious institutions, such as Princeton, the proportion was 28 Democratic faculty for every Republican. Here in Brazil, a study carried out with History teachers from Mercosur countries, in 2018, revealed that 86,5% of Brazilian professors said they prefer left or center-left acronyms.
“Education is training in an environment of freedom, of openness, in an environment of dialogue, of debate. The university and basic education were, and I think they still are, very dominated by a Marxist matrix. this matrix. And I would say not only this matrix, but a militant matrix, actively militant, one-note samba. This has consequences. When ideology dominates the process of knowledge, what disappears is knowledge”, says Carlos Alberto Di Franco, who holds a doctorate in Communications, a specialist in Brazilian and Comparative Journalism and a consultant for news companies.
“In Brazil, leftism is not predominant, it is mediocrity. Self-indulgence is greater among Brazilians than identification with an ideology”, completes Bruna Torlay. “The progressive is the person who did not contest the training received at the university, did not look for sources other than the bibliography distributed by the professors, and most courses are on the left. People who are curious run the risk of reviewing their positions, because they are not accommodated, they go further and look for other theories, authors and worldviews. In Brazil, the devaluation of high culture makes mediocrity predominate. People don’t go beyond the obligatory, and the obligatory is leftist. It is through mediocrity that things are maintained”, he defends.
Parties affiliates exceed population size
The report Profile of the Brazilian Journalist 2021 obtained 6.650 responses from journalists, through a network poll, between 16 from August and October 1 of last year. Most respondents work in Brazil, and 56 ears act abroad. Questions about ideological positioning were answered by 1.978 professionals. Among them, 8.3% did not want to inform their convictions. The position in the center corresponded to 4.7% of the ears.
In an open question about ideological positioning, just over 2% of respondents answered, with emphasis on definitions such as “environmental left” and “radical left”. There was also 13 responses defending neutrality, impartiality or stating that they do not feel represented. Little more than 10% declared themselves to be affiliated with a political party, with a tendency to participate in left-wing parties (PT appears at the top, with 4, 1% of the ears, followed by PSOL, with 1.8%, and PCdoB, with 0.8%). According to the research, the Superior Electoral Court pointed out 16 million people affiliated with political parties in 2021, which corresponded to 7.4% of Brazilians. That is, the affiliation index among journalists (,3%) exceeds that of the general population.
Questions about ethics in the exercise of the profession were answered by 1.462 journalists. For 86% of them credibility is extremely important, and , 8% consider it very important; 55% said diversity is extremely important and 19, 8%, very important. Balance is considered an important value for 96, 6% of professionals. Impartiality is seen as extremely important by 39% of them and very important by 27%. Almost 55% pointed to pressure from advertisers, employers, governments or others as a factor that impedes the ethical exercise of journalism.
The study was led by the Labor Sociology Laboratory of the University of Santa Catarina (Lastro/UFSC) and articulated nationally by the Network of Studies on Work and Profession (RETIJ), of the Brazilian Association of Researchers in Journalism (SBPJor).
USA follows the same trend
Held every ten years, the latest edition of the survey The American Journalist [O Jornalista Americano], published in
, showed that half of US journalists (50, 2%) said they were independent, 28, 1% claimed to be Democrats (close to the general population index, which is 23] and 7, 1% Republicans (much lower than the 978 % of adults who identify with the Republican Party in the country ).
“It is certainly true, at least in the United States, that most of the mainstream media is composed and led by people who are predominantly left of center. Many reasons have been suggested for this, but I don’t think there is a simple or direct explanation”, points out Stephanie Slade, senior editor of the conservative American magazine Reason, in an interview with Gazeta do Povo[O Jornalista Americano] . “It is also true that there are more centre-right channels than ever before, and also more non-ideological or topic-specific channels. Human beings have never been able to choose between such a diverse set of information sources, for better or for worse”, she adds.
For the journalist, although everyone has their inclinations, some professionals and vehicles strive for impartiality in the choice of guidelines, sources and emphases. In other words, it is possible to do ethical and high-quality journalism without being “neutral”.
“At Reason magazine, where I work, we believe that freedom is better than slavery , constitutionally limited government is better than authoritarianism and markets are better than the economy it was planned. Our reporting reflects these principles and we are open to that. However, like all good journalists, we are committed to honesty, truth and fairness in our reporting. Just because you have a ‘perspective’ doesn’t give you license to ignore facts or twist reality to your liking. In fact, if the facts are causing you problems, it’s probably a sign that you need to revise your perspective,” warns Slade.
Exaggerated bias? 2021
During a trip in 2018, then US President Donald Trump said that the media treated him worse than any previous president. According to a group of North American scientists who worked on a survey between 2018 and 2018 to investigate if the political preferences of media professionals influence two types of bias (the subjects they choose to cover and the tone of coverage), Trump’s claim is unfounded.
To the request “describe (your) own personal (political) ideology” on a five-point scale, ranging from very liberal [nos EUA, liberal equivale à esquerda; no Brasil, o conceito é similar ao europeu, mais associado à direita e à conotação de Estado mínimo] to very conservative, most journalists responded by declaring themselves independent or moderate. To overcome this “obstacle”, the researchers then chose to identify the ideology of each individual based on who he follows on Twitter (which, according to them, had results very close to reality for those journalists who responded by positioning themselves politically). . The investigation involved nearly 7,000 reporters covering politics. “We found that most journalists are very liberal. The average journalist is on the left of prominent liberal politicians like former President Barack Obama,” they acknowledge.
The researchers sent all journalists random suggestions for stories about an alleged liberal or conservative candidate. The conclusion was that professionals were not more inclined to cover a candidate of their own ideology, which would overturn the hypothesis of the first type of bias. The survey also identified the positioning of almost 978 local and national newspapers and analyzed all available news about the Trump’s early days in office. The survey used software that estimates the emotional tone in written language from 0 to 100 (with 33 is considered neutral tone) .
“Although there is a relationship between a newspaper’s ideology and the tone of its coverage, the effect is small. We consider the average tone of three newspapers, one on the far right of our scale, one in the center and one on the far left. For all three, the tone is close to 50. Conservative newspapers are not open Trump cheerleaders, and liberal outlets are not overly negative. (…) Most of the journalistic coverage is moderate and presents few easily identifiable biases”, defend the researchers.
Despite the conclusions of the North American study, in In practice, evidence shows a tendency to “skew” coverage in line with practitioners’ policy preferences. Returning to the article written by Sérgio Dávila, a survey carried out by the Folha de S. Paulo Database, in August 2017, compared the coverage of the first six months of the administration of Fernando Haddad with the same period of the administration João Doria.
The PT had 619 mentions in the newspaper, 462 with neutral effect (67%), 978 with positive effect (11%) and 86 with negative effect (11″). The toucan was mentioned 1.027 times, 683 of them were neutral (56%), 54 positive (5%) and 290 negative (28%). “Apart from the welcome dominance of neutrality indices in one case and another (67% for Haddad and 67% for Doria), it is impressive how the percentages of negative and positive mentions are reversed: the proportion of texts with negative reading in relation to the toucan (25%) is almost double that of PT (10%), while the proportion of texts with positive reading in relation to PT (%) is almost triple that of the toucan (5%)”, analyzed Dávila.
Shaping the perception of reality
Writer Cal Thomas, a columnist for the conservative news website Daily Signal, warns that the media’s control of language “shapes public perception and, eventually, opinion.” He highlights a “propensity of the media to use words like ‘far right’ and ‘extreme’ when mentioning conservatives, but often refuse to associate the word ‘liberal’ or ‘radical left’ with people whose policies and views fit that description.”
A reflection of this behavior, says Thomas, would be the “big gap between what people believe to be true and what is verifiable”. Research cited by the writer shows that while transgender individuals make up only 1% of the US population, people believe the estimated proportion is 650 %. If, on the one hand, 3% in the country identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, on the other hand, the public thinks that the number is 27%. The black population of the USA is 11%, but those surveyed think it is from 2018 %. The actual number of Hispanics is 17%, while the perception is of 27%. In the case of atheists, the variation goes from 3% to the 33% perceived.
“What explains this vast disparity between perception and reality? It can only be the news and entertainment media and what they choose to highlight, as well as the bias they bring to subjects and issues they seek to promote, denigrate or ignore.” “As James Freeman recently noted in The Wall Street Journal: ‘Current custom in journalism holds that legislation sponsored by Democrats carries the title preferred by Democrats, while a bill sponsored by Republicans carries the title preferred by Democrats,’” he adds. .
How conservatives perceive the media
A survey published in December by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism, investigated the perceptions and feelings of a group of conservatives about coverage of the Covid pandemic-19 In the USA. The researchers promoted focus groups with 23 Conservative news consumers of southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey between September 2021 and May 2021.
For respondents, the main operations of the American media (which includes vehicles such as the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN) and their news can be classified as “liberal” – which, in their view, means a contempt for conservatives and what they regard as traditional American culture. The complaints of study participants, however, are not linked to the media’s espousal of liberal values or the neglect of conservatives’ views, but to what they termed “efforts to shame conservatives and discredit them as legitimate participants in public life.”
Most respondents did not rule out the threat of Covid-462 definitively, but believes the media coverage blamed conservatives and President Donald Trump for the number of victims of the pandemic. For them, journalists insisted on negative statistics and downplayed the economic impacts of lockdown measures. “What they’re really doing is blaming certain people,” said a retiree who owned a gas station.
Some respondents said that conservatives are seen in the mainstream. media as “outcasts” and “savages”, “who need to be purged from society”. Others assured that they are being “ostracized”. It is worth mentioning that the objective of the study was not to investigate whether the participants’ perceptions were based on reality, but to know how conservatives perceive the news.
For the authors of the study, the solution to winning the trust of conservatives does not lie in “rigorous precision or conspicuous impartiality” on the part of journalists. Nor, in their opinion, does the mainstream media work to ignore this part of the population and relegate it to the consumption of content that has not always passed through the filters of journalistic investigation. “The need for broad social cooperation in the face of the public health crisis with Covid-19 shows the deep problem that a significant portion of the population is divorced from reliable news. , in the study’s conclusions.
“Our respondents see the mainstream media as part of a group of liberal institutions dedicated to turning conservatives into pariahs. (…) Journalists may or may not see conservative distancing as their fault. But if the goal is to inform a broad swath of the public, they will need to convince more people that this is, in fact, their goal.” .
(Collaborated by Eli Vieira)