Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the Us Press, 1869-1928

40 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2012 Last revised: 24 Jun 2012

See all articles by Matthew Gentzkow

Matthew Gentzkow

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Nathan Petek

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jesse M. Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael Sinkinson

Yale SOM

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2012

Abstract

Using data from 1869 to 1928, we estimate the effect of party control of state governments on the entry, exit, circulation, prices, number of pages, and content of Republican and Democratic daily newspapers. We exploit changes over time in party control of the governorship and state legislatures in a differences-in-differences design. We exploit close gubernatorial elections and state legislatures with small majorities in a parallel regression-discontinuity design. Neither method reveals evidence that the party in power affects the partisan composition of the press. Our confidence intervals rule out modest effects, and we find little evidence of incumbent party influence even in times and places with high political stakes or low commercial stakes. The one exception is the Reconstruction South, an episode that we discuss in detail.

Suggested Citation

Gentzkow, Matthew Aaron and Petek, Nathan and Shapiro, Jesse M. and Sinkinson, Michael, Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the Us Press, 1869-1928 (June 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18164. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2085151

Matthew Aaron Gentzkow (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nathan Petek

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Jesse M. Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael Sinkinson

Yale SOM ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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