She became a writer and, later, a senior editor of the widely circulated TV Guide magazine in the 1960s and 1970s, where she wrote celebrity profiles, political columns and editorials. In the 1970s, she was also ghostwriter for former Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon‘s book A Time For Truth. In her editorials for TV Guide, Efron criticized what she saw as liberal bias in the media, and she defended politicians Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. Efron and other columnists writing in TV Guide like Kevin Phillips and Pat Buchanan advocated the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine by the Federal Communications Commission, in order to permit alternative viewpoints greater access to the airwaves. The FCC would remove the policy in the late 1980s.
In their 1993 history of TV Guide, Changing Channels: America in TV Guide, Cornell professors Glenn C. Altschuler and David I. Grossvogel have stated that “no writer…did more to shape TV Guide,” a publication that reached over 40 million readers at the time. Her impact on the magazine, they said, included her role as “the quintessential TV Guide voice on race relations.”
All the positions she took on race in her articles, Efron told us, “were determined by what I thought would be good for a young, vulnerable black child.” Disturbed by the changing strategies toward achieving racial equality in the sixties, Efron remained the same on her position: “, I was in favor of equality of opportunity and meritocracy. Meaning, among other things, that I was as critical of crap from blacks as I was from whites, and . That is the definition of not being a racist. One judges individuals, not their color!!!” Thus, Efron was as passionate about black power as she was about theories positing the genetic inferiority of blacks because each accepted the group instead of the individual as the appropriate unit of analysis and action: “Essentially I was always protecting my child from two kinds of racism: the kind common in the South and the kind characteristic of the North. Both contempt for all blacks glamorization of all blacks are detestable, and damage blacks.”
In 1971, Efron published The News Twisters, a controversial book which claimed to find media bias in the television news coverage of the 1968 U.S. presidential election, one of the first studies of its kind ever conducted. The reviewer in Commentary summed up the originality of her project: “The Fairness Doctrine was established by the FCC in 1949, replacing an earlier policy which had outlawed any partisan commentary by broadcasters altogether. In it the Commission encouraged the presentation of controversial public issues on the air—provided that approximately equal coverage was given to each side of each issue. The doctrine does not require that every broadcast, or even a series of broadcasts in the same time-slot, be balanced . It is sufficient if the “overall” coverage is balanced. Nevertheless, the principle is intuitively appealing: nonpartisanship requires balanced coverage; somehow that is common sense.
Twisters, was followed by her 1972 work, How CBS Tried to Kill a Book, an examination of CBS News’s reaction to her study. Efron was the original Media Research Center or Bernie Goldberg, before there were VCRs and other recording devices to easily measure biased coverage, and before there was the internet or The O’Reilly Factor to publicize the discovery. She is the Columbus of the phenomena of media bias.