Todd Manzi

Conservatives don’t have a level playing field because our country suffers from a liberally biased news media. Some people think media bias is not a fact, but merely a debatable opinion. These people are quick to point out that conservatives have venues for their ideas: talk radio, the Internet, Fox News and The Wall Street Journal.

Looking at the issue from a marketing prospective helps debunk the absurd claim that there is some sort of parity in the media for liberals and conservatives. Consider three target audiences: passionate liberals, passionate conservatives and normal people who vote. Those of us who fall in one of the first two groups, battle for market share of the third group. We want our ideas embraced. We want our candidates elected.

Paradoxically, the primary target audience for those of us passionate about politics is voters who are disengaged from politics. How do you reach this group? How do they form their opinions? Talk radio and the rest of the new media doesn’t reach these people or sway their opinions. The primary audience of talk radio is those of us who are passionate about politics and are committed to a political ideology. We are not normal.

Normal people don’t care as much about politics or liberal versus conservative ideology as they care about sports, hobbies, their jobs, family activities, etc. They are not interested in taking the time to understand issues on a deep level. They want sound bites and headlines. They want to glean information efficiently, form quick opinions and move onto something else more enjoyable. 

The target audience - people who swing elections and influence policy because of their answers to public opinion polls - is reached through the mainstream media. These people spend a few minutes with the newspaper and catch their local news on television. The claim that media bias is not a problem because conservatives now have a voice in the media misses the big picture perspective.

Advertising types make decisions regarding getting their message out based on gross rating points (GRPs). Yes, the total GRPs from talk radio, the Internet and the rest of the conservative media, is huge. In fact, advertisers understand that for products disproportionately purchased by conservatives, they have attractive and efficient advertising opportunities. Although the reach of the conservative media is staggering when looked at on its own, it is tiny when compared to the reach of the mainstream media.

Todd Manzi

Todd Manzi is a media critic.

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