CULTURE DIGEST: Survey -- Journalists admit liberal leanings, lack exposure to faith

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Just 6 percent of national journalists describe themselves as conservative, compared with 36 percent of the overall population, according to an annual survey released in March by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

The State of the Media report said 2 percent of the journalists and news executives surveyed consider themselves very conservative, while 53 percent of national journalists described themselves as moderate, 24 percent as liberal and 8 percent as very liberal.

Jennifer Harper, a writer for The Washington Times who analyzed the report, said there are more conservatives in broadcast media than in print -- 10 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Among online journalists, 8 percent said they were conservative.

Overall, only 8 percent of journalists at national media outlets said they attend church or synagogue weekly.

Almost two-thirds of the journalists in the survey admitted that their political leanings impact their reporting as the line between reporting and commentary is blurred.

Cliff Kincaid, editor of Accuracy in Media, told Family News in Focus that he believes the number of conservatives in the media seems lower than 6 percent.

"There are very few," he said. "This is based not only on the surveys but personal experience. The fact is that conservative students tend not to go into journalism. Liberal students want to change the system. They see journalism as a tool to accomplish that."

NewsBusters.org, a blog that claims to expose the liberal bias in the media, said the Pew report "confirmed the obvious -- that compared to the views of the public, conservatives are under-represented in national journalism while liberals are over-represented."

"Only 19 percent of the public consider themselves liberal. And it's not much of a leap to presume many of the 53 percent [of journalists] who describe themselves as 'moderate' are really quite liberal," Brent Baker wrote on the blog.

To read the Project for Excellence in Journalism report, visit www.journalism.org.

AFA ENDS FORD BOYCOTT -- The American Family Association has ended its two-year boycott of Ford Motor Company, saying its supporters are free to purchase Ford vehicles again after the company met the conditions of an agreement to stop supporting homosexual causes.

Don Wildmon, founder and chairman of AFA, said the support of more than 780,000 people who signed the boycott petition "played a key role in convincing Ford to cease its significant support of the homosexual agenda."

Wildmon also wrote in an e-mail to supporters that during the 24 months the boycott was in effect, Ford sales dropped an average of 8 percent per month. Wildmon conceded the boycott was not entirely responsible for the drop in sales but said it played a significant role.

AFA asked Ford to agree that the company "would not renew current promotions or create future incentives that give cash donations to homosexual organizations" and that Ford "would not make corporate donations to homosexual organizations that ... engage in political or social campaigns to promote civil unions or same-sex marriage."

The agreement also specified that Ford "would stop giving cash and vehicle donations or endorsements to homosexual social activities such as Gay Pride parades" and that Ford "would cease all advertising on homosexual Web sites and through homosexual media outlets."

"A few minor issues remain, and we will continue to bring these to the attention of Ford," Wildmon wrote. "But basically Ford has met the terms of the agreement. We are therefore suspending the boycott."

Forbes magazine, though, said AFA is taking credit for something that can more accurately be attributed to a downturn in the U.S. economy. Ford said its principles haven't changed but the company has reduced overall advertising and charitable spending because of losses in North America, Forbes reported. Ford lost $2.7 billion in 2007, with U.S. sales down 10 percent compared to 2006.

AFA and more than 30 other conservative groups launched the boycott in March 2006, urging Christians not to buy cars from Ford or its seven other brands: Lincoln, Mercury, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Mazda.

NEWSPAPER CALLS ON 'LAPSING CATHOLICS' -- The Journal News, a newspaper covering the Lower Hudson region of New York, is preparing for Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States by asking online readers to respond to a peculiar survey.

"Are you a lapsed Catholic?" the survey asks. "As part of The Journal News' coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to New York [in April], we're hoping to interview Roman Catholics who consider themselves lapsed or non-practicing on their views about the pope's visit. If you're willing to be interviewed please contact Ernie Garcia at elgarcia@lohud.com."

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, countered that his organization is returning the favor by sending a survey to 134 of the newspaper's employees whose e-mail addresses they've obtained.

The survey reads:

"Protestants: Given that no religious group switches denominations more than Protestants, can you tell us what it feels like to bounce around from one contiguous neighborhood to another in search of the ideal church?

"Jews: Given that the vast majority of Jews do not attend synagogue and that 52 percent of them intermarry, can you tell us what it feels like to be a non-Jewish Jew?

"Muslims: Given that Muslims who convert may be murdered, can you tell us if you've at least fantasized about converting?"

Pope Benedict will visit Washington April 15-17 before traveling to New York April 18-20.


Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.

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