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

Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse M. Shapiro

NBER Working Paper No. 12707
Issued in November 2006
NBER Program(s):   IO   POL

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.

download in pdf format
   (489 K)

email paper

A non-technical summary of this paper is available in the July 2007 NBER digest.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Digest by email.

This paper was revised on August 17, 2007

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12707

Published: Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, 01. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Knight and Chiang w14445 Media Bias and Influence: Evidence from Newspaper Endorsements
Gentzkow and Shapiro w11664 Media Bias and Reputation
Chari, Kehoe, and McGrattan w14313 New Keynesian Models: Not Yet Useful for Policy Analysis
Gentzkow and Shapiro w15916 Ideological Segregation Online and Offline
DellaVigna and Kaplan w12169 The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us