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Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the US Press, 1869-1928

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  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Nathan Petek
  • Jesse M. Shapiro
  • Michael Sinkinson

Abstract

Using data from 1869 to 1928, we estimate the effect of party control of state governments on the entry, exit, circulation, prices, number of pages, and content of Republican and Democratic daily newspapers. We exploit changes over time in party control of the governorship and state legislatures in a differences-in-differences design. We exploit close gubernatorial elections and state legislatures with small majorities in a parallel regression-discontinuity design. Neither method reveals evidence that the party in power affects the partisan composition of the press. Our confidence intervals rule out modest effects, and we find little evidence of incumbent party influence even in times and places with high political stakes or low commercial stakes. The one exception is the Reconstruction South, an episode that we discuss in detail.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18164.

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Date of creation: Jun 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18164

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References

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  2. Rafael Di Tella & Ignacio Franceschelli, 2009. "Government Advertising and Media Coverage of Corruption Scandals," NBER Working Papers 15402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2012. "Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers," NBER Working Papers 18234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2008. "Competition and Truth in the Market for News," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 133-154, Spring.
  13. Baron, David P., 2006. "Persistent media bias," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 1-36, January.
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  15. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1998. "Sources of Inefficiency in a Representative Democracy: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 139-56, March.
  16. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2011. "The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Exit on Electoral Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2980-3018, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Francesco Drago & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "Meet the Press: How Voters and Politicians Respond to Newspaper Entry and Exit," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-88, July.
  2. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2012. "Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers," NBER Working Papers 18234, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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