Statistical Bias in Newspaper Reporting on Campaign Finance
23 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2003
Date Written: October 31, 2003
This paper examines evidence of statistical bias in newspaper reporting on campaign finance. We compile data on all dollar amounts for campaign expenditures, contributions, and receipts reported in the five largest circulation newspapers in the United States from 1996 to 2000. We then compare these figures to the universe of campaign expenditures, contributions and receipts, as recorded by the Federal Election Commission. The figures reported in newspaper accounts exceed the average expenditure and contribution by as much as eight fold. Press reporting also focuses excessively on corporations contributions and soft money, rather than on the more common types of donors - individual - and types of contributions - hard money. We further find that these biases are reflected in public perceptions of money in elections.
Keywords: campaign finance, news, media, elections
JEL Classification: D72, D78, L82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation