The Rise of the Fourth Estate: How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered
A free and informative press is widely agreed to be crucial to the democratic process today. But throughout much of the nineteenth century U.S. newspapers were often public relations tools funded by politicians, and newspaper independence was a rarity. The newspaper industry underwent fundamental changes between 1870 and 1920 as the press became more informative and less partisan. Whereas 11 percent of urban dailies were "independent" in 1870, 62 percent were in 1920. The rise of the informative press was the result of increased scale and competitiveness in the newspaper industry caused by technological progress in the newsprint and newspaper industries. We examine the press coverage surrounding two major political scandals -- Credit Mobilier in the early 1870s and Teapot Dome in the 1920s. The analysis demonstrates a sharp reduction in bias and charged language in the half century after 1870. From 1870 to 1920, when corruption appears to have declined significantly within the United States, the press became more informative, less partisan, and expanded its circulation considerably. It seems a reasonable hypothesis that the rise of the informative press was one of the reasons why the corruption of the Gilded Age was sharply reduced during the subsequent Progressive Era.
|Date of creation:||Sep 2004|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as The Rise of the Fourth Estate. How Newspapers Became Informative and Why It Mattered , Matthew Gentzkow, Edward L. Glaeser, Claudia Goldin. in Corruption and Reform: Lessons from America's Economic History , Glaeser and Goldin. 2006|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse Shapiro, 2005.
"Media Bias and Reputation,"
NBER Working Papers
11664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Besley, Timothy J. & Prat, Andrea, 2002.
"Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
3132, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
- Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2005. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 07, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
- Steven Berry & Joel Waldfogel, 2003.
"Product Quality and Market Size,"
NBER Working Papers
9675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2002.
NBER Working Papers
9295, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sendhil Mullainathan & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "Media Bias," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1981, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Brunetti, Aymo & Weder, Beatrice, 2003. "A free press is bad news for corruption," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(7-8), pages 1801-1824, August.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10791. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.