FAIR: TV News, Newspapers Less Reliant on Think-Tank Data

Media watchdog/critic Fairness and Accuracy in Media said TV news operations and newspapers relied less on think-tank data and sources in 2007 than the year before.

FAIR looks at the top 25 such sources -- Brookings Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute and Kaiser Family Foundation among them -- for the annual survey and found that the number of overall citations dropped from 17,837 to 14,790 in a study of major newspapers, as well as in transcripts from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, PBS and National Public Radio.

The ideological breakdown continued to skew toward right of center, with 16% of the citations to progressive think-tanks, while 37% were to conservative and 47% to "centrist" groups.

Study author Michael Donly said in announcing the findings that the decline was "not necessarily a bad thing," since media outlets rarely put ideological labels on the groups, although "those supposedly detached experts actually tilt a bit toward the center-right … Fewer of them spinning and shaping the news may be a net plus for media transparency."

In the interests of transparency, FAIR describes itself as a progressive organization that "believes that structural reform is ultimately needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting and promote strong nonprofit sources of information.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.