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What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers

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  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Jesse M. Shapiro

Abstract

We construct a new index of media slant that measures whether a news outlet.s language is more similar to that of a congressional Republican or Democrat. We apply the measure to study the market forces that determine political con- tent in the news. We estimate a model of newspaper demand that incorporates slant explicitly, estimate the slant that would be chosen if newspapers independently maximized their own profits, and compare these ideal points with .rms. actual choices. Our analysis confirms an economically significant demand for news slanted toward one's own political ideology. Firms respond strongly to consumer preferences, which account for roughly 20 percent of the variation in measured slant in our sample. By contrast, the identity of a newspaper's owner explains far less of the variation in slant. We also present evidence on the role of pressure from incumbent politicians, tastes of reporters, and newspaper competition in determining slant.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers," NBER Working Papers 12707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12707
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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