Program on Political Economy Seminar


Thursday, October 8, 2020, 4:30pm to 5:45pm


Zoom - see below

Zoom links for Political Economy Seminar are distributed via the seminar's mailing list. You can sign up for the list using this link:

All interested faculty and students are invited to attend.

Today's presenter:

Elliott Ash (ETH Zurich), "Media Slant is Contagious" (with Philine Widmer and Sergio Galletta)


This paper provides causal evidence on how partisan news messaging from cable television influences the content published by newspapers in U.S. localities. We introduce a new parallel corpus of newspaper articles (24M articles in 600+ local newspapers) and transcribed television news shows (40K cable news episodes from Fox News Channel, CNN, and MSNBC) for the years 2005-2008. We measure media influence using a supervised learning model that predicts, for a given piece of text, the probability that it comes from a Fox News transcript, rather than from CNN or MSNBC. After validating the measure, we apply it to the local newspaper article texts. Exogenous variation in news exposure across localities comes from relative channel numbering, which we use as instruments. We find that an exogenous increase in Fox News exposure increased the similarity of local newspaper content to Fox News content. Media slant is contagious.

Co-sponsored by FAS and IQSS, the Program on Political Economy (PE) supports research-related activities that integrate the study of economics and politics, whether by studying economic behavior in the political process or political behavior in the marketplace. In general, positive political economy is concerned with showing how observed differences among institutions affect political and economic outcomes in various social, economic, and political systems and how the institutions themselves change and develop in response to individual and collective beliefs, preferences, and strategies.

widmer-ash-galletta_media-slant-is-contagious.pdf828 KB