When I briefly worked at a daily newspaper in North Carolina, I was fascinated by an unexpected phenomenon-the scribblers in Winston-Salem were every bit as liberal, if not more so, than big-time journalists in New York and Washington.
How did this happen?
A interesting piece on Tech Central Station explains how the media, in cities large and small, ended up being liberals:
“The economics of the newspaper business is far more favorable to cities than to the countryside. The cost of news content production in cities, where populations are easily accessible, is much lower than it is in the countryside — especially before the era of cheap and reliable telephones. Moreover, the cost of product distribution was dramatically less expensive in urban areas where paper boys often travel only yards, as opposed to miles in rural areas, to deliver a single, incremental newspaper.
“As a result, big city newspapers thrived and the biggest city’s newspaper, the New York Times, thrived most. That the journalists and editors who worked in the big city news business reflected the local political culture is not surprising. The sentiment that city folk are just a little bit smarter than country folk, or some equivalent chauvinism related to locational and team psychology, is not a conspiracy and probably couldn’t have been prevented any more than you could get the majority of Green Bay Packers fans to root for New York, or vice versa.
“As other large city papers took news, inspiration, affirmation and expertise from New York, they also shared the New York political perspective. Even in small towns where politics were more to the right, ambitious journalists with dreams of ‘making it big’ learned quickly which side of the ideological bread needed to be buttered if they wanted national careers.”
Much of the snobbery and condescension towards Americans in the hinterlands one senses in the press stems from this intellectual isolation:
“Liberals, however, were spared the best conservative arguments by editors who didn’t like or understand them. Nodding at Walter Cronkite’s and Dan Rather’s interpretation of events, the left was lulled into the complacency of consensus in a world where consensus did not truly exist. The few alternative voices, hidden on the pages of mostly liberal editorial pages, were easy to dismiss as irrelevant or extremist.”