What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers

68 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2006 Last revised: 22 Sep 2010

See all articles by Matthew Gentzkow

Matthew Gentzkow

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

Jesse M. Shapiro

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

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Date Written: November 2006

Abstract

We construct a new index of media slant that measures whether a news outlet.s language is more similar to that of a congressional Republican or Democrat. We apply the measure to study the market forces that determine political con- tent in the news. We estimate a model of newspaper demand that incorporates slant explicitly, estimate the slant that would be chosen if newspapers independently maximized their own profits, and compare these ideal points with .rms. actual choices. Our analysis confirms an economically significant demand for news slanted toward one's own political ideology. Firms respond strongly to consumer preferences, which account for roughly 20 percent of the variation in measured slant in our sample. By contrast, the identity of a newspaper's owner explains far less of the variation in slant. We also present evidence on the role of pressure from incumbent politicians, tastes of reporters, and newspaper competition in determining slant.

Suggested Citation

Gentzkow, Matthew Aaron and Shapiro, Jesse M., What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers (November 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12707. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=945347

Matthew Aaron Gentzkow (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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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

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