In an article that surely won him no friends in the newsroom, Politico senior media writer Jack Shafer wrote that the news media indeed live in a “bubble” centered in liberal enclaves like New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, and that it makes their reporting biased.
“The people who report, edit, produce and publish news can’t help being affected—deeply affected—by the environment around them,” Shafer writes, noting that as of 2013, just seven percent of journalists identified as Republicans.
From the piece, which ran Tuesday:
The national media really does work in a bubble, something that wasn’t true as recently as 2008. And the bubble is growing more extreme. Concentrated heavily along the coasts, the bubble is both geographic and political. If you’re a working journalist, odds aren’t just that you work in a pro-Clinton county—odds are that you reside in one of the nation’s most pro-Clinton counties. And you’ve got company: If you’re a typical reader of Politico, chances are you’re a citizen of bubbleville, too.
The “media bubble” trope might feel overused by critics of journalism who want to sneer at reporters who live in Brooklyn or California and don’t get the “real America” of southern Ohio or rural Kansas. But these numbers suggest it’s no exaggeration: Not only is the bubble real, but it’s more extreme than you might realize. And it’s driven by deep industry trends.
Those trends involve the switch from actual paper newspapers to online publications, which are no longer tethered to local printing presses and local ads. Like other industries, the online media have tended to congregate in clusters where they trade and share talent. And in this case, those clusters are in locales deeply shaded blue.
Without apparent irony, Politico announced a new CEO the same day the article ran. His name is Patrick Steel, and he has donated $60,000 to Democrats over the last 20 years, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Edwards.
We won’t fault Shafer for not doing a piece on whether his new boss can disentangle his political giving from his stewardship of the website.