There is a stereotype, perpetuated by people such as myself, that public media journalists are overwhelmingly left-leaning in their personal political beliefs.
I readily admit that there is no data set to prove this, so in this week’s episode of The Pub, I’m asking a self-identified public media lefty and a self-identified public media righty the same question: Are public media people generally liberal, and what — if anything — could or should be done about that?
NPR dropped distribution of Lisa Simeone’s show World of Opera in 2011 after she got involved in the Occupy movement. A self-identified liberal (though she quibbles with the label), Simeone says NPR people aren’t the hard lefties people think they are.
“If you think ‘left-leaning’ . . . means that you’re in favor of gay marriage, and you think that pot should be legalized, and you think that transgendered people are cool, then yeah, most people in public radio are liberal,” Simeone told me. “But I mean something very different by it, and in my experience, most people in public radio are not liberal.”
On the other end of the spectrum, WESA Pittsburgh News Director Mark Nootbaar identifies as conservative and thinks the general perception of public media journalists as liberal is accurate.
However, he doesn’t think there’s much to be done about it.
“Deep down inside, we’re artists,” Nootbaar said of journalists. “I think that when you start to talk about those types of people, you just find that they are a little bit more liberal than they are conservative.”
Also on the show:
- I offer a little quantitative analysis to explain why fans will miss Diane Rehm when she retires next year, comparing her to her midmorning talk competitor, Tom Ashbrook.
- The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi, in breaking the news of Rehm’s retirement, once again makes substantive changes to an article about public media without acknowledging those changes on the page.
- A remembrance of veteran radio reporter Max Cacas, who died suddenly Tuesday at 61.
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Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.