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
Date Written: November 1, 2012
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: Suggested Citation