Media Hiring Bias?

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 28, 2006; 10:06 AM

By now, you've probably heard way too much about the Red America blogging debacle at washingtonpost.com.

Well, most of you, anyway.

One major issue in the hiring (and subsequent ouster) of former Bush administration aide and RedState.com guy Ben Domenech was whether he was the right guy for the job. In light of the pattern of plagiarism that came to light, I think the answer is pretty clear.

A second major issue was whether hiring a conservative activist as a blogger was a reasonable stab at "balance" when there was no self-proclaimed liberal blogging away, as opposed to left-leaning journalists. I think that's a fair point, but I don't want to see washingtonpost.com or any other MSM outfit abandon efforts to include voices from the right.

And that brings me to the larger question: Do the hiring practices of big newspapers, magazines, networks and Web sites tilt toward people of the liberal persuasion, thereby requiring hand-wringing about intellectual diversity? At RealClear Politics, David Mastio chews on that one:

"You'd think from all the fury that this was the first time big media had opened up the door for somebody with thin journalism credentials and a strong political point of view. Of course, you'd be wrong. They do it all the time and, usually, they give the young politicos reporting jobs.

"The difference is that the beneficiaries are usually on the left and readers don't get a hint that the MSM newbees might have a history.

"Take Nicholas Confessore, for example: A few years ago, he was an editor at the left-leaning Washington Monthly. Before that he worked for the hard-left American Prospect. Now he's a supposedly unbiased reporter for The New York Times. Robert Worth, another staff writer for The New York Times was an editor in 98-99 at The Monthly. There are plenty of others.

"Washington Post music critic David Segal was an editor for the Monthly in 93-94. Katherine Boo, the investigative wiz for The Post was a Washington Monthly editor in 91-92, launching her Post career a little more than a year later.

"There is a literal conveyor belt from left-wing opinion journalism into straight news reporting and editing slots. The New Republic, The American Prospect and The Washington Monthly are the biggest suppliers. That opportunity simply isn't open to those on the right.

"Can anyone name for me a current New York Times or Washington Post reporter who was previously on the staff of National Review, The Weekly Standard or The American Spectator? No? Maybe that's because there are none."

But I would raise this counter-question: How many people from National Review, Weekly Standard or American Spectator have applied for reporting jobs at the NYT or WP?


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