Study finds rightward tilt in North Carolina newspapers

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


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Cecil Bothwell
A writer for Mountain Xpress since three years before there WAS an MX--back in the days of GreenLine. Former managing editor of the paper, founding editor of the Warren Wilson College environmental journal, Heartstone, member of the national editorial board of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, publisher of Brave Ulysses Books, radio host of "Blows Against the Empire" on WPVM-LP 103.5 FM, co-author of the best selling guide Finding your way in Asheville. Lives with three cats, macs and cacti. His other car is a canoe. Paints, plays music and for the past five years has been researching and soon to publish a critical biography--Billy Graham: Prince of War:

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

2 thoughts on “Study finds rightward tilt in North Carolina newspapers

  1. Dionysis

    No revelation here. Over the past several years, as media consolidation has resulted in a small number of companies owning the majority of the media, headed by right-leaning (or ultra-rightists, like Rupert Murdoch), and as news has morphed into ‘infotainment’, the result is (1) less actual, objective news, (2) the skewing of political views through this media towards the right and (3) a growing lack of credibility on the part of the public towards bit media.

    The internet, for all of its downsides, remains today the single best venue for real news. Surveys have consistently shown this to be true.

    How many people get their news primarily from the newspapers or network television these days anyway? They can’t be trusted.

  2. Billr

    I tend to agree with both the article and Dionysis.
    Plus I will go even further and make the statement that our News Media for
    the most part has completely failed the American people and its own duty which
    it should be bound by as beneficiaries of the Air Waves that are owned by the Citizens
    of this nation. That duty is to truthfully inform the public in regards to matters which
    affect our nation and its policies.

    They failed us in the lead up to the Iraq war by not only presenting a one sided view in the opinions section, but also on the very front pages by not questioning what was clearly flawed and questionable information given as reasons why we should invade Iraq. They are still failing us by not giving the proper exposure to those opposed to remaining in Iraq today when studies show that as much as 70% of the nation thinks we need to be getting out of Iraq now.
    Pick up almost any paper and you will find that opinions expressed by those writing the columns and news supports the Administration’s policy of staying the course regardless of cost in lives and wealth.
    They are failing to give the American citizen the opportunity to choose the best person for the job of President of the US in our next election by ignoring candidates that the news media themselves have determined to be non contenders. Instead we are being forced to choose between the particular candidates that the mega corporations and the right leaning conservative writers have deemed as the front runners via the use of loaded poll questions designed to obtain the results that they desire.

    When we lost the news media as the watchdog of America and the guardian of freedom we lost much of what our founding fathers built this nation on. We lost our guardian when our News Media was allowed to be concentrated into the hands of only a few huge corporations that exist now only to further their own agenda which is a government that is most favorable toward Corporations and the bottom line of profits.

    The only way that will change is to undo the huge mistake that was created when the restrictions of ownership were removed. Do we have anyone that will work toward righting this terrible wrong inflicted upon our country and it’s citizens? I believe we do have but sadly that person will not get the opportunity to present their case and policies without a change in the media coverage.

    We as citizens of this great nation need to wake up and become active participants and demand the kind of news coverage including opeds that our nation requires in order that we can have a truly balanced view of what is happening and why it is happening.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.