Fear & Favor: How Power Shapes the News

February 19, 2001

Surveys of working journalists have found that they experience pressure from powerful interests, outside and insidethe news business, to push some stories and ignore others, and to shape or slant news content. The sources of pressureinclude the government, which enlists media to support its actions and policies; corporate advertisers who may demandfavorable treatment for their industries and products; and media owners themselves, who can use their outlets tosupport their increasingly various business and political interests.

In a 2000 Pew Center for the People & the Press poll of 287 reporters, editors and news executives, about one-third ofrespondents said that news that would "hurt the financial interests" of the media organization or an advertiser goesunreported. Forty-one percent said they themselves have avoided stories, or softened their tone, to benefit theirmedia company’s interests. Among investigative reporters, a majority (61 percent) thought that corporate owners exertat least a fair amount of influence on news decisions.


  • Janine Jackson, Program Director, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.