I live in Toronto, a city with no less than four major daily newspapers; the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun, the Globe and Mail, and the National Post. The latter two claim to be NATIONAL, not Toronto-centric, but they’re not fooling anyone.
Anyway, two of these newspapers, the Star and the Post, are open and unapologetic mouthpeices for a selected political party. In the case of the Star, they’re the unofficial paper of the Liberal Party; the Post is the unofficial paper of the Conservative Party and, for some reason, the U.S. Republican Party.
In the case of both papers this bias goes well beyond selective reporting and into outright dishonesty and misdirection. Reading a Toronto Star editorial can be an exercise in dizzying lie-interpretation, sort of like being a Kremlinologist, and its obsession with pet issues and the Liberals makes it, in its better moments, sort of like a socialist campus newsletter (in its worse moments, it’s a BAD socialist campus newsletter.) Meanwhile, the Post doesn’t even make you wait to get to the editorial page; they just put their bias right into the front page by making up stories and headlines that aren’t really news. At least five or six times in the last year they’ve come out with an inflammatory headline that was not actually related to anything that happened on this planet.
The other two papers aren’t nearly as bad. The Globe used to be pro-conservative but is sort of moderate now; the Sun is for children.
Tell me about the papers in your city; are they like this? Is this a bad thing? Should this be something we get mad about?
English (i.e. London-based) newspapers certainly have political and ideological stances - which in some cases are an important part of their very existence. The Guardian is heavily left-wing and liberal, going back to its origins in Manchester (beginning in part as a reaction to the Peterloo massacre).
By that time, The Times was pretty much part of the establishment - and has consistently been a fairly centrist organ (it’s now part of the Murdoch empire, which can cause conflicts of interest in the reporting). The Telegraph (aka Torygraph) is less ambivalent in its Conservative affiliation. The Independent, the fourth main broadsheet, is somewhere in the shadows of The Guardian.
Importantly, none are unquestioning mouthpieces for political parties. The Telegraph is perhaps the closest to this, but still is an independent voice. All four are also pretty good about keeping a distinction between reporting & editorialising. The same is not true of the two obnoxious populist semi-tabloid rags, the Daily Mail and the Express. Both go for populist middle-class rabble-rousing fear-mongering stories, at all costs. The Mail in particular has a rather unattractive historical record, with anti-Semitic and pro-fascist stances in the 1930s. (Modern Mail headlines about ‘immigrants’ match the 1930s ones about ‘Jews’ to a frightening degree.)
The true tabloids are another story, or another world, altogether. Calling them newspapers is a joke. But they’re also the biggest sellers.
New York City has four big papers. They run the political spectrum: The Wall Strret Journal is pro-business conservative, The New York Times is old-fashioned conservative, The Daily News is moderate conservative, and The New York Post is hard-core conservative.
To add to what **GM ** has posted previously it should also be said that all those newspapers(in some cases the word “newspapers” should be taken with a grain of salt) are also nationally distributed – albeit with slight regional variations.
@Little Nemo It’s hard to call the times conservative IMO. Although it isn’t hard to call it a bad paper or an incompetently ran paper. There have been famous allegations of conservative and liberal bias against the Times.
IN all honesty having read the times many a time I’d say they don’t have a significant bias as a paper but many of the senior writers throughout the paper’s sections have strong biases one way or the other.
Cleveland is a one newspaper town, and it, The Plain Dealer, is biased towards Republicans. There are 2 free independent weeklies, Scene and The Free Times, that lean towards the left but their circulations are a lot smaller than the PD’s is.
The Akron Beacon Journal has the best sports writer, Terry Pluto.
Las Vegas has 2 major newspapers, The Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Las Vegas Sun. LVRJ in the morning, LVS in the afternoon.
The RJ is a heavily conservative, Republican party newspaper, and it’s bias is evident throughout the news stories as well as on the editorial page.
The Sun is a more liberal, Democratic paper, altho this bias shows somewhat less in the stories (the op-ed page is still screaming their p.o.v. of course).
I have lived in many cities (15 at last count, I think) and I have seen a bias in all newspapers. It’s normal. Editors, publishers, writers, everyone involved has a bias and it will come out sooner or later. That’s why I read several newspapers a day, to try and filter the facts out of the flood. It’s also informative, I think, to just know what people think, even if you think you’re diametrically opposed to them (or you think you are).
The problem is arising, tho, that with USA Today (piece of crap) and other publications going national, is that too many Americans will rely only on one source for their information. This will of course make it EVEN EASIER to lie to the public. Since the government is supposed to be “we the people” this will have the net effect of negating a lot of input from the public, and I’m sure that will suit our “leaders” just fine.
But to just answer the OP question: yes, all cities do have openly biased newspapers.
Sydney has four daily papers (the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, the *Australian * and the Australian Financial Review). The first two are Sydney-based; the second two are nationally-distributed papers. Basically I’d say:
the *SMH * (a broadsheet) is more “highbrow” left of centre;
the *Telly * (a Murdoch tabloid) is more “populist” right of centre;
the *Australian * (a Murdoch broadsheet) is more “highbrow” right of centre;
the *AFR * (a tabloid) is strictly business-focussed.
Having said that, all of these papers have a number of columnists who express a reasonably broad range of views.
Try living in Oklahoma City. We have the Daily Dissapointment aka the Daily Oklahoman. Editorial despotism on the part of the Gaylord family (the ones who now own much of Nashville - they started in OKC) is legend. The Columbia Journalism Review has published at least one article calling The Oklahoman the “Worst Newspaper in the US”. I usually read the NYT online and when I have an overriding compulsion to buy a newspaper, I get the Dallas Morning News.
Oklahoma City had multiple papers and publishers at one time but the Oklahoma City Times, an evening paper, folded long ago. Even so, for the last couple of decades of its existence, it too, was owned by the Gaylords. The Oklahoma Journal was the last competing paper in OKC. This history of the Journal contains the following passage:
40,000 was the circulation of the Journal when it folded.
The Washington Times, owned by Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church, is an unofficial organ of the Bush administration. It’s Fox News in print.
The Washington Post is about as middle-of-the-road as they come.
So in DC liberals have half a paper, conservatives have one-and-a-half papers.
I remember when the Cleveland Press (folded 1982) was the afternoon paper in Cleveland. It was more working class, West Side, grittier than the businesslike East Side Plain Dealer, which is not to say necessarily more conservative or liberal. I’ll admit my memory isn’t that good, but from my childhood and adolescence in Cleveland I don’t remember either the Press or the Plain Dealer being especially liberal or conservative. It looks as though the Plain Dealer has been taken over by right-wingers in recent years. The Scene that I remember reports on rock-‘n’-roll, not politics.
Make that English-language dailies. There are also three in Chinese, and one in Spanish, among others. I once tried to count the number of dailies in Toronto and got to 14, but I was never certain of it… mostly because I can’t read some of the scripts.
Only two papers with ‘open and apologetic’ biases for a particular political party? I can’t believe you left the Sun out of that assessment. The Sun was a Reform booster for years. And the Globe supported the Progressive Conservatives.
To expand upon RickJay’s description…
The Star, the paper with the largest circulation in Toronto, is centre to centre-left. It tends to concentrate on local affairs and the welfare of the city, but also offers strong national and international reportage. It actually meshes quote well with the general attitude of the Liberal party (on the Liberals’ non-corrupt days, that is). Back during its hindredth anniversary it made a lot of noise about ‘the Atkinson Principles’ and how it was founded during a printers’ strike in the 1890s and has biases in favour of a stable civil society where everyone, including the elite, look out for each other. The Star is the only one of these papers that is not part of a chain or larger media conglomerate.
It seems you and I read different Stars.
The National Post is a relative newcomer to the market, and is social-conservative. I think it would like to be the Globe and Mail when it grows up. Back during the turn of the millennium, when the papers had their inserts looking at the events of the past thousand years, it was the only one to put Christianity first on its cover.
I stopped reading the Post because of the very-badly-drawn cartoons; perhaps I should start again…
I wouldn’t give the Sun to my children without the others for comparison.
The Globe and Mail is big-business conservative, but not insular; it tends to be internationalist in outlook. It strongly supported the WTO process for instance. It reports the business news, but also has a very good international reporting section.
The Toronto Sun is a strongly-right-wing populist tabloid which can be read in about ten minutes. It was popular amongst the line-workers at GM when I worked there, for example. Its headlines tend towards sensationalism about crime and support for the police. Its editorial thrust is towards self-reliance and no free lunches. Until recently it has a ‘page three girl’ like the British tabloids.
There are also several competing free commuter papers, Metro, 24 Hours, and Dose.
Metro is part of the international Metro chain, and in Toronto is partly owned by the Star. 24 Hours is newer, small, glossy, and tends to concentrate on celebrities; I believe it is put out by the same people as the Sun. Dose is about a month old; I believe it is put out by the same people as the National Post.
IMHO, Toronto could use an old-school-dirigiste rabble-rousing left-wing paper just to stir things up. A left-wing green and a right-wing green paper would be more important (and likely to succeed) though.
I’m not certain that you can have a paper without some sort of bias. To me, this illustrates why you need more than one, so that you can compare and look at what editorial choices each one makes, what stories it chooses to cover, and the way it chooses to cover them, and maybe pick your way to what the news really is.
At work, we used to get one of each paper and bring them all to the same table and read during lunch. Made for some interesting discussions…
Is it even possible to have a newspaper that’s not biased? The only way I can imagine it is to have a paper with no editorials at all, assuming the reporting can be relatively unbiased. Even then, I’m sure readers will perceive bias in the news stories.