Media Watch is everything that is wrong with the ABC, squeezed into 15 insufferable minutes.
Smug, elitist and, above all, awash with the misguided idea that commercial media outlets are not to be trusted and that the only place where honest news can be found is in Aunty’s warm, state-sponsored embrace.
That the ABC could complain about a lack of opposing viewpoints is staggering.
Chris Berg and I talk about privatising the ABC here. We explain why the ABC is so biased – especially on environmental issues.
This sort of argument is consistent with David Marr’s 2004 observation, “The natural culture of journalism is a kind of vaguely soft left inquiry, sceptical of authority. I mean, that’s just the world out of which journalists come. If they don’t come out of this world, they really can’t be reporters. I mean, if you are not sceptical of authority – find another job.” The problem with Marr’s observation, however, is that there might be more than just “soft-left inquiry” going on. A 2013 survey of journalists revealed a large left-wing bias amongst ABC journalists compared to their colleagues at Fairfax and News and especially compared to the general population. In a survey of over 600 journalists Folker Hanusch – now a senior lecturer in journalism at QUT – asked journalists as to their political beliefs and voting intentions at the 2013 federal election. Table 2.1 summarises his results together with the actual voting results of the 2013 federal election.
Table 2.1: Journalists’ voting intention at the 2013 federal election
Greens Labor Coalition ABC 41.2 32.4 14.7 Fairfax 19.8 54.7 19.8 News Limited 19.8 46.5 26.7 All Journalists 19.4 43.0 30.2 Senior Media Executives 11.4 34.1 43.2 Electorate at 2013 election (HR) 8.7 33.4 45.6 Electorate at 2013 election (Senate) 8.7 30.1 37.7
Source: Hanusch (2013), Australian Electoral Commission
Consistent with Marr’s observation, journalists are more likely to be soft-left (defined as being a Labor voter) than the general population and less likely to be a Coalition voter. Journalists in general are about twice as likely to be Greens voters as the general population. Consider, however, the ABC – their journalists are nearly 5 times more likely to vote Greens than are the general population and twice as likely to be Greens voters than are journalists in general.
 David Marr, ABC Radio National, Big Ideas, 26 September 2004, quoted in http://www.thesydneyinstitute.com.au/media-watch-dog-issue-75/
 Folker Hanusch, 2013, Journalists in times of change: evidence from a new survey of Australia’s journalistic workforce, Australian Journalism Review, 35(1) 29 – 41.
The ABC responded to that statistic:
their journalists are nearly 5 times more likely to vote Greens than are the general population and twice as likely to be Greens voters than are journalists in general.
with a hit-job from their so-called RMIT-ABC Fact Check unit. Luckily journalists don’t understand statistics, because they managed to provide a robustness check to our claim.
Associate Professor Olivier also calculated an odds ratio, using a logistic regression model, which includes all outlets (ABC, Fairfax and News Corp) as well as Newspoll.
Using this model, he calculated that ABC journalists have a 2.9-fold increase in the odds of preferring the Greens over Newspoll respondents, with a 95 per cent confidence interval between 1.6 and 5.2.
The ABC is biased and the Coalition government continues to fund it and indulge it.