Jun 13 2000

New Study: Center/Right Think Tanks Dominate News

Contact: Rachel Coen, (212) 633-6700 x318

**PLEASE NOTE CORRECTED VERSION OF EARLIER 6/13/00 RELEASE: Due to an error in calculation, some of the percentages in the release you received earlier today are incorrect. Below is a corrected version. We apologize for the error.**

Media rely more on think tanks for “expert” sources than they did just two years ago, and continue to feature conservative and centrist think tanks at the expense of left-leaning ones, a new study has found.

The joint study–conducted by sociologist Michael Dolny for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA)–found that in 1999, right-leaning and conservative think tanks accounted for 51 percent of media citations, while centrist think tanks accounted for 35 percent and progressive or left-leaning ones received only 13 percent.

In 1997 Dolny found that conservative or right-leaning think tanks received 53 percent of all citations, while 16 percent of the citations went to progressive or left-leaning think tanks. While the distribution of citations received by conservative and progressive think tanks has remained roughly the same, overall citations of think tanks increased by about 19 percent since 1997 (from 14,623 cites to 17,449–an indication that media are now relying more heavily on think tanks for information.

Of the 25 leading think tanks studied, the centrist Brookings Institution dominated the news with the most citations (2,883)–twice as many media mentions as the next-ranked conservative/libertarian Cato Institute (1,428 cites). The conservative Heritage Foundation, which had rivaled Brookings in prominence a few years ago, has fallen to third place (1,419 cites), while the conservative American Enterprise Institute (1,263 cites) is the fourth most cited think tank in the U.S. media. These four think tanks accounted for 40 percent of the media cites.

The most cited progressive or left-leaning think tanks in 1999 were the Urban Institute (712 cites) and the Economic Policy Institute (506 cites), which came in ninth and tenth.

The study, published in the current issue of FAIR’s magazine Extra!, used the Nexis database of major newspapers and transcripts of radio and TV programs. It is available on FAIR’s web site: www.fair.org/extra/0005/think-tanks-survey.html