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

43 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2012 Last revised: 13 Dec 2012

See all articles by Matthew Gentzkow

Matthew Gentzkow

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

Nathan Petek

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

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: November 1, 2012

Abstract

Using data from 1869-1928, we estimate the effect of party control of state elected offices on the entry, exit, circulation, 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 also present regression-discontinuity estimates based on the outcomes of close gubernatorial elections and state legislatures with small majorities. Our main estimates show no evidence that incumbent governments influence the press, and are precise enough to rule out modest effects. Estimates for politically significant times and places where we would expect the scope for government intervention to be relatively large also show little evidence of influence. The one exception is the post-Reconstruction South, an episode that we discuss in detail.

The appendices for this paper are available at the following URL: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2188586

Keywords: partisanship, media, Reconstruction, regression discontinuity

JEL Classification: D72, L82, N41

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 (November 1, 2012). Chicago Booth Research Paper No. 12-19. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2089455 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2089455

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

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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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