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Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the US Press, 1869-1928

Author

Listed:
  • 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, 2012. "Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the US Press, 1869-1928," NBER Working Papers 18164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18164
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2011. "The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Exit on Electoral Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2980-3018, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Enikolopov, Ruben & Makarin, Alexey & Petrova, Maria, 2016. "Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia," CEPR Discussion Papers 11254, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. John Lott & Kevin Hassett, 2014. "Is newspaper coverage of economic events politically biased?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 160(1), pages 65-108, July.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:335:p:393-416 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jetter, Michael, 2017. "Terrorism and the Media: The Effect of US Television Coverage on Al-Qaeda Attacks," IZA Discussion Papers 10708, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Jetter, Michael, 2014. "Terrorism and the Media," IZA Discussion Papers 8497, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. 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.
    8. 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.

    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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