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Media Matters Report: Black and White and Re(a)d All Over

The Conservative Advantage in Syndicated Op-Ed Columns

September 25, 2007

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Summary: A Media Matters report finds that conservative syndicated columnists are more often published and in wider circulation than are their centrist or progressive counterparts. This means that the US conservative voice is the most heard and most able to inflence public opinion.

Excerpt: Though they have suffered slow but steady declines in readership over the last couple of decades, newspapers remain in many ways the most important of all news media. The Newspaper Association of America estimates that each copy of a weekday paper is read by an average of 2.1 adults, while each Sunday paper is read by an average of 2.5 adults, pushing total newspaper readership for daily papers to more than 116 million and Sunday papers to more than 134 million. This means that some columnists reach tens of millions of readers, and one, conservative George Will, actually reaches more than 50 million.

Furthermore, newspapers are the preferred news medium of those most interested in the news. According to a 2006 Pew Research Center study, 66 percent of those who say they follow political news closely regularly read newspapers, far more than the number who cite any other medium. And an almost identical proportion of those who say they "enjoy keeping up with the news" -- more than half the population -- turn to newspapers more than any other medium. These more aware citizens are in turn more likely to influence the opinions of their families, friends, and associates.

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