Friday, 29 April 2011

Political bias at the New York Times

Volume 11 issue 1 of The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy contains an article on Being The New York Times: the Political Behaviour of a Newspaper by Riccardo Puglisi, University of Pavia. The abstract reads:
I analyse a dataset of news from The New York Times, from 1946 to 1997. Controlling for the activity of the incumbent president and the U.S. Congress across issues, I find that during a presidential campaign, The New York Times gives more emphasis to topics on which the Democratic party is perceived as more competent (civil rights, health care, labor and social welfare) when the incumbent president is a Republican. This is consistent with the hypothesis that The New York Times has a Democratic partisanship, with some “anti-incumbent” aspects, in that—during a presidential campaign—it gives more emphasis to issues over which the (Republican) incumbent is weak. To the extent that the interest of readers across issues is not systematically related with the political affiliation of the incumbent president and the election cycle, the observed changes in news coverage are consistent with The New York Times departing from demand-driven news coverage. In fact, I show that these findings are robust to controlling for Gallup data on the most important problem facing the country, which I use as a proxy for issue tastes of Times’ readers.
How surprising is such a result?

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