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Just about everything you would assume about journalists covering the financial industry is true, according to a new study.
Scholars from Arizona State University and Texas A&M University surveyed 462 financial journalists and conducted 18 follow-up interviews to reach their conclusions. The abstract of their paper summarizes their findings.
“First, financial journalists have stronger incentives to produce original information and analysis than to disseminate information already in the public domain, and they rely heavily on private communication with company management for information. Second, sell-side analysts play an important role in informing financial journalists, many of whom lack financial sophistication. Third, the incentives for sensationalism in the business press assumed in prior research are dominated by incentives for accurate, timely, in-depth, and informative reporting, while the quid pro quo incentives assumed in prior literature (e.g., putting a positive spin on company news to maintain access to inside sources) are substantial.”
Get that? Journalists covering the financial industry don’t know the industry and give favorable coverage to keep access. Sounds like pretty much every other type of journalist. The good thing for financial journalists, the study found, is that they value informative reporting over sensationalism, something severely lacking in other areas of journalism.
The journalists surveyed by the scholars come from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Associated Press, Washington Post and other highly respected outlets, as well as other smaller outlets.
One other thing the researchers found was that the surveyed journalists overwhelmingly described themselves as liberal. Of those surveyed, 17.63% said they were “very liberal,” and 40.84% said they were “somewhat liberal,” for a total of 58.47% saying they lean left.
On the other side of the spectrum, just 0.46% said they were “very conservative” and 3.94% described themselves as “somewhat conservative,” for a total of 4.4% of respondents leaning right. The other 37.12% said they were moderate.
This isn’t that surprising considering how much of the larger media landscape identifies with the Left. Conservatives have complained for decades about media bias, and they’ve largely been right. In 2016, the Center for Public Integrity looked at the political donations of 430 journalists and found that the overwhelming majority of them donated to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The studied journalists gave $382,000 to Clinton and just $14,000 to then-candidate Donald Trump. Just 50 of the journalists donated to Trump, meaning 380 — or 88% — gave to Clinton. This also only includes those who gave more than $200 to a candidate, as those names must be disclosed by law. Far more could have donated to either candidate with smaller donations.
A similar pattern was found in 2012. Even employees at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox News, donated more to President Barack Obama than Mitt Romney.
It’s obvious that the media is made up of left-leaning reporters, but it is fascinating to learn that the bias isn’t limited to political journalism or culture reporters. The infection is everywhere.