Media Slant is Contagious

62 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020 Last revised: 20 Apr 2023

Date Written: April 20, 2023

Abstract

This paper examines the diffusion of media slant, specifically how partisan content from national cable news affects local newspapers in the U.S., 2005-2008. We use a text-based measure of cable news slant trained on content from Fox News Channel (FNC), CNN, and MSNBC to analyze how local newspapers adopt FNC's slant over CNN/MSNBC's. Our findings show that local news becomes more similar to FNC content in response to an exogenous increase in local FNC viewership. This shift is not limited to borrowing from cable news, but rather, local newspapers' own content changes. Further, cable TV slant polarizes local news content.

Keywords: media slant, text as data, local news markets

JEL Classification: L82, C53, D72, D23, O33, Z13

Suggested Citation

Widmer, Philine and Galletta, Sergio and Ash, Elliott, Media Slant is Contagious (April 20, 2023). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3712218 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3712218

Philine Widmer (Contact Author)

University of St.Gallen ( email )

Bodanstrasse 8
SIAW-HSG
St.Gallen, 9000
Switzerland

Sergio Galletta

ETH Zürich ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
ZUE F7
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Elliott Ash

ETH Zürich ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
ZUE F7
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

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