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A Measure of Media Bias

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  • Tim Groseclose
  • Jeffrey Milyo

Abstract

We measure media bias by estimating ideological scores for several major media outlets. To compute this, we count the times that a particular media outlet cites various think tanks and policy groups, and then compare this with the times that members of Congress cite the same groups. Our results show a strong liberal bias: all of the news outlets we examine, except Fox News' Special Report and the Washington Times, received scores to the left of the average member of Congress. Consistent with claims made by conservative critics, CBS Evening News and the New York Times received scores far to the left of center. The most centrist media outlets were PBS NewsHour, CNN's Newsnight, and ABC's Good Morning America; among print outlets, USA Today was closest to the center. All of our findings refer strictly to news content; that is, we exclude editorials, letters, and the like. "The editors in Los Angeles killed the story. They told Witcover that it didn't ‘come off’ and that it was an ‘opinion’ story.… The solution was simple, they told him. All he had to do was get other people to make the same points and draw the same conclusions and then write the article in their words" (emphasis in original). Timothy Crouse, Boys on the Bus [1973, p. 116].

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Groseclose & Jeffrey Milyo, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1191-1237.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:4:p:1191-1237.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/003355305775097542
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Djankov, Simeon & et al, 2003. "Who Owns the Media?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 341-381, October.
    2. Baron, David P., 2004. "Persistent Media Bias," Research Papers 1845r, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    3. John R. Lott, Jr., 1999. "Public Schooling, Indoctrination, and Totalitarianism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 127-157, December.
    4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2005. "The Market for News," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1031-1053, September.
    5. Dwight R. Lee, 2001. "The Internet, the Market, and Communication: Don't Ignore the Shoe While Admiring the Shine," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 20(3), Fall.
    6. repec:cto:journl:v:20:y:2001:i:3:p:431-451 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Daniel Sutter, 2002. "Advertising and Political Bias in the Media: The Market for Criticism of the Market Economy," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 725-745, July.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D29 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Other
    • D79 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Other
    • H89 - Public Economics - - Miscellaneous Issues - - - Other

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