Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's not polite to notice...

Who is shaping opinion?

White Anglo-Saxon old boys, you think?

Take another look. A check of the stables of columnists for the New York Times and the Washington Post Writers Group does indeed disclose that African Americans and women seem to be under-represented, though a proper statistical analysis would be necessary in order to verify such a claim.

The Times has one African American columnist, Bob Herbert, and the Washington Post group one African American columnist, Eugene Robinson. This represents 1 of 10 Times columnists and 1 of 17 Writers Group regulars, for 10 percent at the Times and 5.8 percent at the Writers Group. Yet, blacks constitute about 13.4 percent of the national population. A Google search left me unsure of black demographic figures for the New York metropolitan area.

Two of 10 Times columnists (20 percent) are women and four of 17 Writers Group columnists (23 percent) are women.

The Times lists five of 10 columnists whose Jewish heritage is plain. That is, 50 percent of Times columnists have a Jewish ethnicity. The U.S. population is 2 percent Jewish and the metropolitan New York population is about 10 percent Jewish.

The Writers Group's 17 includes six persons whose biographical data or names imply Jewish heritage. However, one case was uncertain enough that I will say that only five of 17 have a Jewish heritage. This represents 29 percent of Group writers versus a national Jewish population of 2 percent.

It should be noted that the Washington Post Writers Group contributors are drawn from the Post and from various newspapers across the country. The syndicate markets its columnists nationwide. The Times also markets its in-house columnists nationwide.

Does all this imply a "Jewish conspiracy"? No. But it does imply a strong degree of ethnic favoritism, of the kind often attributed to WASPs.

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