Academic and Media Balance

Posted by on June 22, 2017

Independent thought and opinion are eroded by Leftist group-think.

By James Allan - Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland.


How do we explain the astounding lack of political balance in our universities and amongst our journalists, not to mention within the supposedly liberal Liberal Party?  Why, that is, do those who inhabit these institutions and roles tend to lean so far to the left?

 When it comes to journalists I stumbled across a possible explanation.  It was reported last month in Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal.  They reported a study led by Tara Swart, a neuroscientist, who analysed 40 journalists from US newspapers, magazines, broadcast media and online platforms over seven months.  Here’s the conclusion of that study.  Journalists’ brains were operating at a lower level than the average of the general population.  Now at face value this seems to be a pretty shonky study to me, what with the n=40 type generalisations and conclusions underlying the results – not to mention the fact that Tara Swart is not just a neuroscientist but also a ‘leadership coach’ (noises of wretching heard in the wings, stage left).

  Still, you can’t get past the fact that this conclusion about the below average brainpower of your typical journalist goes a long way to explaining, for example, Niki Savva.  Or take Cloud Ultimo and the weekly guff churned out on the ABC’s flagship Q&A program.  Once you simply posit that the preponderance of ‘our’ ABC journalists are just stupid, you can begin to understand why each week the panel leans massively to the Big Government, anti-free speech, pro-Gillian Triggs, anti-Trump, enthusiastic windmill and sun worshiping, ‘Islamic terrorism is less worrying that refrigerators’ side of politics – otherwise known as the Green Party of Australia, the in-house religion of UltimoLand.

  I suppose if you were looking to buttress Dr. Swart’s conclusions as far as younger journalists were concerned you could also point to the fact that in Australian universities today the high school students opting to take journalism degrees have considerably worse results – on average and as a statistical generalisation you understand – than do those opting for medicine, law or engineering.  I’m not sure if they are as frighteningly low as those of the cohort opting to be teachers, but they are low.  So give me the hard-bitten, know their English grammar, ‘learn on the job’ older journos any day.

  And of course so many university departments and faculties are overwhelmingly staffed by those of the left.  Pretty much the only sort of ‘diversity’ mandates, aspirations, goals, what have you that are not shoved down your throats in today’s universities – do I hear computer rooms at QUT set aside exclusively for those of Aboriginal ancestry? – is anything to do with political balance.  University students can go through whole degrees without being lectured by a right of centre professor.  This has long-term consequences in two ways.  The bad way is that the students miss out on that John Stuart Mill ideal of testing opinions, views and beliefs against competing ones that challenge their own and make them think again.  Put differently, they end up living in some Facebook bubble where everyone espouses the same virtue-signalling guff and any divergence from the Human Rights Commission/GetUp! worldview is met with outrage and shock.

  Does that sound familiar in much of today’s media?

 The other, less-bad effect of going to universities with monolithic, ‘no diversity of political outlook’ departments and faculties is that many students – the bright ones especially – become very, very cynical.  They get good at giving professors what they know these academics want to hear.  They know that it is overwhelmingly the case that if the lecturer disagrees with a substantive view that no matter how well it is presented and argued for it will get a worse mark than if the student just regurgitated the professor’s clear and obvious views.  So, cynicism being better rewarded, this is what they do.

  I venture to say that every recently graduated university student reading this piece will being nodding his or her head in agreement. And I have direct knowledge of a top student in a ‘sexism and racism is rampant in the West’ type university course who for her first essay challenged this outlook and got only a ‘B’ type grade.  For all other assessments she played the game and got her usual A+ grades.  

  Of course if there were a wider range of political views on Australian campuses both these long term effects would be ameliorated.  But our overpaid university ‘diversity’ DVCs care only for the sort of campus balance that aims for certain statistical balances, namely ones that focus on the type of skin pigmentation and reproductive organs.

  All of this is pretty depressing, at least for me it is.  And that is another reason why Donald Trump – for all his vulgarities, occasional boorishness and odd way of expressing himself at times – has been such a welcome change.  We need a powerful disruptive force in politics in the West right now.  We need someone who calls out the one-sided outlook of much of the media.  We need someone who stands up for national sovereignty against the democracy-enervating effects of supranationalism and over-powerful, unelected judges.  We need someone who dares now and then to say that Davos Man is a self-interested virtue-signaller who is not wearing any clothes (and likes to spend shareholder money, not his own, to push one side of contested social issues).

  Let me finish this piece on the media this way. If you read only the New York Times or watched only ABC for your news not only was the election of Trump and the vote for Brexit an inexplicable shock to you, it is also the case that right now at this moment you would be convinced that the Republicans could not possibly win the next presidential election.  Heck, you’re probably deluded enough to think that the Donald will be impeached.  But in fact I’m prepared to predict right now that the Republicans will win again in 2020.

  By the way, it was the fact that 54 bedwetter MPs in the Liberal Party seemed only to get their news from the ABC, Fairfax and the wonderfully ‘balanced’ Niki Savva that they opted to defenestrate Tony in favour of Malcolm.   They, ultimately, are the ones responsible for the mess that is today’s Liberal Party.  For her next project perhaps Dr. Swart might like to analyse the average brainpower of these 54 geniuses.

Showing 3 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.