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Sources of Negative Attitudes Toward the News Media: Horse Race Coverage, Tabloid Coverage, and the Neglected Role of Elite Opinion Leadership

35 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2008  

Jonathan McDonald Ladd

Georgetown University - Department of Government

Date Written: June 12, 2008

Abstract

Americans' attitudes toward the news media as an institution have become dramatically more negative over the past 40 years. This has led to considerable discussion about what causes people to dislike the media. Using a survey experiment to manipulate the considerations respondents use when evaluating the press, I find, consistent with the broader literature on political persuasion but not with most scholarship on attitudes toward the media, that elite opinion leadership can powerfully shape these opinions. Additionally, I find that horse race coverage creates antipathy toward the press among politically aware citizens on both sides of the political spectrum and that tabloid coverage has a small negative effect on opinions regardless of predispositions. Contrary to some claims in the literature, I find no detectable effect of news negativity.

Keywords: Public opinion, mass media, trust, political communication

JEL Classification: C90

Suggested Citation

Ladd, Jonathan McDonald, Sources of Negative Attitudes Toward the News Media: Horse Race Coverage, Tabloid Coverage, and the Neglected Role of Elite Opinion Leadership (June 12, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1154244 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1154244

Jonathan McDonald Ladd (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Government ( email )

ICC, Suite 681
Washington, DC 20057-1034
United States
202-687-7112 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://government.georgetown.edu/jml89

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