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Government Distortion in Independently Owned Media: Evidence from U.S. Cold War News Coverage of Human Rights

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  • Nancy Qian
  • David Yanagizawa-Drott

Abstract

This paper investigates the extent to which strategic objectives of the U.S. government influenced news coverage during the Cold War. We establish two relationships: 1) strategic objectives of the U.S. government cause the State Department to under-report human rights violations of strategic allies; and 2) these objectives reduce news coverage of human rights abuses for strategic allies in six U.S. national newspapers. To establish causality, we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in a country's strategic value to the U.S. from the interaction of its political alliance to the U.S. and membership on the United Nations Security Council. In addition to the main results, we are able to provide qualitative evidence and indirect quantitative evidence to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the reduced form effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Nancy Qian & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2010. "Government Distortion in Independently Owned Media: Evidence from U.S. Cold War News Coverage of Human Rights," NBER Working Papers 15738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15738
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15738.pdf
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    1. Nancy Qian & David Yanagizawa, 2009. "The Strategic Determinants of U.S. Human Rights Reporting: Evidence from The Cold War," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 446-457, 04-05.
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    Cited by:

    1. Devarajan, Shantayanan & Khemani, Stuti & Walton, Michael, 2011. "Civil society, public action and accountability in Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5733, The World Bank.
    2. Brian Knight & Ana Tribin, 2016. "The Limits of Propaganda: Evidence from Chavez's Venezuela," NBER Working Papers 22055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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