Angry White Men — aka Journalists


A poll released last week reported that 7 percent of American journalists say they are Republicans. The survey also found that the news force is aging, having a median age of 47. And 62 percent of journalists are men. A mere 8.5 percent of full-timers are minorities. Less than 1 in 4 are “very satisfied” with their job. In short, the profession that dubbed the Republican Party a refuge for “angry white men” is teeming with angry white men.

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The irony here is wasted on the ink-stained-wretch community.

Indiana University has conducted this survey of more than 1,000 journalists every decade since 1971, so it measures changes in the industry. The 2002 survey reported that 18 percent of journalists identified as Republicans. At 7.1 percent last year, America’s newsrooms housed a lower percentage of Republicans than San Francisco (8.4 percent).

No wonder conservatives don’t trust the media.

Professors Lars Willnat and David Weaver also recorded the lowest showing of journalists who called themselves Democrats since 1971, when it was 35.5 percent. Now 28 percent say they are Democrats; half say they are independent; and 15 percent say they are “other.”

Bernie Goldberg, a former CBS reporter who is now with Fox News, thinks many of the self-identified “independent” journalists are liars who “know better than to tell the truth and tell the pollsters who they really are.” I suspect that Goldberg is onto something. Though surveys have found more ideological diversity in newsrooms outside the Beltway, a 1996 Freedom Forum poll of Washington correspondents found that 89 percent said they had voted for Bill Clinton in 1992.

I’ve known colleagues to be rather defensive on the issue of liberal bias. It couldn’t be that like Ivy League faculties, liberal editors tend to hire people who dress, think and vote as they do. No, there must be a more noble reason that liberal journalism self-replicates.

I’ve heard it before: Journalists are smarter than other people, so of course they’re liberal. (That’s right; we’re so clever that we work in a shrinking industry.) Or: Liberals are drawn to journalism because they question authority.

Problem: When groupthink prevails, the hive swarms best when presented with the scent of weakness in an outside authority. When a story makes Republicans look stupid, it inevitably becomes a big story everywhere. Think Todd Akin’s dim-witted “legitimate rape” remark in 2012. It was big news across the country.

In modern journalism, diversity is supposed to be as holy as accuracy. Editors flock to workshops that help them hire ethnic minorities, members of the LGBT community and other groups deemed to be disadvantaged. Makes sense. Newsroom staff should look not like the faculty lounge but like America.

But when it comes to politics, it’s a different world. Sure, on occasion I’ve seen organizations troll for: a: conservative for balance — for a particular page or function — but there is no industry effort to rebalance the newsroom to make it: think: more like America. Angry white males are an insular bunch.

Email Debra J. Saunders at: dsaunders@sfchronicle.com.: 

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