Green-leaning journalists under scrutiny
There has long been a public perception that Sweden’s media and particularly public service broadcasting service is dominated by left leaning reporters. But a new survey suggests that the Green Party has taken over as the favoured party of journalists.
So what effect does that have on the news?
The media institute JMG at Gothenburg University surveyed more than two thousand Swedish journalists and found overwhelming support (over 70 percent) for Sweden’s opposition parties –particularly the Greens and the former communist Left Party.
One in four said they sympathize with the Greens. At Swedish public radio and television more than a half supported the environmentalist party.
The author of the survey, Professor Kent Asp, told Swedish Television that there is no clear evidence that political preferences influence journalists’ work – but he believes it led to the Green Party getting better treatment in the run up to the 2010 general election.
“You get your views across more than other parties and you get much less criticism of the Green Party,” he told Swedish Television.
Philip O’Connor, an Irish freelance journalist based in Stockholm, covered the election for foreign media and disagrees with Asp.
“I don’t think the Greens got particularly favourable coverage. In fact public service broadcasters go to such lengths to be balanced that they can even be boring. They don’t tend to play devil’s advocate in debates like they do in other countries,” he said.
“And there were a lot of other issues which overshadowed the Greens in the election coverage such as the demise of the Social Democrats and the rise of the Sweden Democrats.”
One reason for the unusually high support for the Greens in this latest survey may be due to when the survey was carried out: last autumn when the Social Democratic Party was in free-fall, and about to have a change of leadership.
The survey also found that senior managers in media organizations were more sympathetic towards Sweden’s governing conservative Moderate party and far less likely to support the Left or Greens.