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

Matthew Gentzkow, Jesse M. Shapiro

NBER Working Paper No. 12707
Issued in November 2006, Revised in August 2007
NBER Program(s):The Industrial Organization Program, The Political Economy Program

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.

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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

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