Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, has released North Carolina data for its new report, “Black and White and Re(a)d All Over: The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-Ed Columns,” which it describes as “a comprehensive and unprecedented analysis of nationally syndicated columnists from nearly 1,400 newspapers, or 96 percent of English-language U.S. daily newspapers.” The report says that conservative syndicated columnists are carried in far more newspapers, with much greater audience reach, than their progressive counterparts, presumably giving them a distinct advantage in the marketplace of ideas.
According to the study, conservative syndicated columnists dominate in N.C. daily newspapers. “Conservative columnists appear a total of 125 times per week in North Carolina newspapers,” the report says. “Centrist columnists appear a total of 27 times, while progressive columnists appear a total of 76 times.” Conservative columnists account for 49 percent of the column impressions in North Carolina each week, while nationally syndicated progressive columnists account for only 37 percent. In addtion, those conservative columnists reach North Carolina readers a total of 1,300,635 more times each week than their progressive counterparts.
The top nationally syndicated columnists published regularly in North Carolina include six conservatives (Walter Williams, Cal Thomas, George F. Will, Thomas Sowell, Kathleen Parker and David Brooks), two centrists (Thomas L. Friedman and John Hood), and two progressives (Leonard Pitts Jr. and Ellen Goodman). (Names within each definition are listed in descending order of print frequency.)
National statistics aren’t much different, according to the study. The list of the top 10 columnists, sorted by the number of papers in which they are carried or by the total circulation of the papers in which they are published, includes five conservatives, two centrists and only three progressives. When sorted by region, in eight of the nine regions into which the U.S. Census divides the country, conservative syndicated columnists reach more readers than progressive syndicated columnists in any given week. Only in the Middle Atlantic region (which includes New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) do progressive columnists reach more readers each week.
“Together, these results prove what many have suspected for years — that our opinion pages both nationally and in North Carolina are consistently skewed to the right, allowing conservatives a disproportionate advantage in shaping public opinion,” said David Brock, president and CEO of Media Matters. “The integrity of our nation’s newspapers is at stake when the debate of today’s pressing issues is dominated by one side of the argument,” Brock said.
To read the full report, click here.
—Cecil Bothwell, staff writer