The Conversation

Why There Isn't a Center-Right Newspaper in America

In response to Then Why Isn't There a National Center-Right Newspaper?:

Interesting question. I was looking at this from the ground up and from that perspective I think it's inevitable that most of these papers die off unless they differentiate themselves in the national marketplace. Once print publication ceases, all of these papers have the same potential for national reach, the same customer base.

Put another way, if we end up with a dozen major liberal papers (New York, DC, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, etc.) pumping the same material onto the internet to the same target demo of urban hipsters, you have a very competitive marketplace.

That's why Samuelson is right that the Post faces a hyper-competitive future. The liberal news space is already pretty saturated. Papers that used to carve out a regional dominance will now have to go head-to-head and compete. And in the end we can probably get by with 3 or 4 papers that do what the NY Times does. We don't need twenty such papers.

Now, just because the liberal media space is crowded does not mean that the same space on the right is equally crowded. So your question is why hasn't anyone exploited that market space. And here I'm pretty confident that you already have a few ideas about that but I'll play along.

One possible explanation is that most journalists are liberals first and business people second in the same way that a lot of people in Hollywood seem to be culture warriors first and entertainers second. There's definitely some of that going on.

But like Bernie Goldberg I think a lot of media bias is less self-conscious than that. Most of the time the left doesn't need a conspiracy to lean left, they're just seeing the world the way they believe it should be seen. Of course the things they care about are front page material. Of course the things the right cares about are fringe and kooky. Everyone knows that!

I'm sure you've seen the surveys which show that people on the right are better able to mime a left-wing perspective than vice versa. Some of this is a genuine inability to grok what other people are thinking.

Leaning left comes naturally and so it probably feels like objectivity to people on the left. On the other hand leaning right (as in a right-leaning paper) would feel unnatural and wrong to these same liberals. So there won't be a right-leaning newspaper in the US so long as running a newspapers involves hiring a cadre of culturally left-leaning J-school grads who take their own perspective for granted.

But other things have filled the gap in the marketplace. This site is an example as is the Drudge report, which now gets nearly a billion visits a month. And the Daily Mail in the UK is cut off from some of the tropes of US liberalism and so has a populist, center-right flavor. It is now the largest English language news site with 134 million uniques last month.

So getting back to your question, why isn't there a center-right newspaper in the US? Because of politics, primarily. Something will fill that market space eventually but it probably won't be a US paper staffed with left-leaning J-school grads. It might continue to be Drudge, the Daily Mail and Breitbart.


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