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

67 Pages Posted: 29 Nov 2006 Last revised: 18 Apr 2014

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)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 13, 2006

Abstract

We construct a new index of media slant that measures whether a news outlet's language is more similar to a congressional Republican or Democrat. We apply the measure to study the market forces that determine political content 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 firms' 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, and we find little evidence that media conglomerates homogenize news to minimize fixed costs in the production of content.

Keywords: bias, text categorization, media conglomerates

JEL Classification: L82, K23, D78

Suggested Citation

Gentzkow, Matthew Aaron and Shapiro, Jesse M., What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers (November 13, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=947640 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.947640

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

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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