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Does the Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions

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Author Info

  • Alan S. Gerber
  • Dean Karlan
  • Daniel Bergan

Abstract

We conducted a field experiment to measure the effect of exposure to newspapers on political behavior and opinion. Before the 2005 Virginia gubernatorial election, we randomly assigned individuals to a Washington Post free subscription treatment, a Washington Times free subscription treatment, or a control treatment. We find no effect of either paper on political knowledge, stated opinions, or turnout in post-election survey and voter data. However, receiving either paper led to more support for the Democratic candidate, suggesting that media slant mattered less in this case than media exposure. Some evidence from voting records also suggests that receiving either paper led to increased 2006 voter turnout. (JEL D72, L82)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 35-52

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:2:p:35-52

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.2.35
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  1. Lisa M. George & Joel Waldfogel, 2006. "The New York Times and the Market for Local Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 435-447, March.
  2. Jeffrey Milyo & Tim Groseclose, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," Working Papers 0501, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 25 Aug 2005.
  3. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "The political economy of government responsiveness: theory and evidence from India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2308, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Media Bias," NBER Working Papers 9295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234, 08.
  6. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Media Bias and Reputation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 280-316, April.
  7. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972, 08.
  8. John List & David Reiley, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
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  1. Ignore the newspapers
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2013-10-07 13:43:11
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