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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Gentzkow & Nathan Petek & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2015. "Do Newspapers Serve The State? Incumbent Party Influence On The Us Press, 1869–1928," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 29-61, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jeurec:v:13:y:2015:i:1:p:29-61
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/jeea.12119
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bernhardt, Lea & Dewenter, Ralf & Thomas, Tobias, 2020. "Watchdog or loyal servant? Political media bias in US newscasts," DICE Discussion Papers 348, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    2. Ruben Enikolopov & Alexey Makarin & Maria Petrova, 2020. "Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence From Russia," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 88(4), pages 1479-1514, July.
    3. John Lott & Kevin Hassett, 2014. "Is newspaper coverage of economic events politically biased?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 160(1), pages 65-108, July.
    4. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2014. "Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3073-3114, October.
    5. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2017. "Death and the Media: Infectious Disease Reporting During the Health Transition," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(335), pages 393-416, July.
    6. Michael Geruso & Dean Spears & Ishaana Talesara, 2019. "Inversions in US Presidential Elections: 1836-2016," NBER Working Papers 26247, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Graham Beattie & Ruben Durante & Brian Knight & Ananya Sen, 2021. "Advertising Spending and Media Bias: Evidence from News Coverage of Car Safety Recalls," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 67(2), pages 698-719, February.
    8. Adam Szeidl & Ferenc Szucs, 2021. "Media Capture Through Favor Exchange," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(1), pages 281-310, January.
    9. Jetter, Michael, 2017. "Terrorism and the Media: The Effect of US Television Coverage on Al-Qaeda Attacks," IZA Discussion Papers 10708, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Jetter, Michael, 2014. "Terrorism and the Media," IZA Discussion Papers 8497, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. 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 159-188, July.
    12. Dewenter, Ralf & Dulleck, Uwe & Thomas, Tobias, 2018. "The political coverage index and its application to government capture," Research Papers 6, EcoAustria – Institute for Economic Research.
    13. Dora L. Costa & Matthew E. Kahn, 2015. "Death and the Media: Asymmetries in Infectious Disease Reporting During the Health Transition," NBER Working Papers 21073, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Charles Angelucci & Julia Cagé & Michael Sinkinson, 2020. "Media Competition and News Diets," NBER Working Papers 26782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. James Rockey & Nadia Zakir, 2021. "Power and the money, money and the power: A network analysis of donations from American corporate to political leaders," Discussion Papers 21-03, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    16. Dewenter, Ralf & Linder, Melissa & Thomas, Tobias, 2019. "Can media drive the electorate? The impact of media coverage on voting intentions," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 245-261.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • N41 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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