Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Program on Political Economy Seminar)


Thursday, November 12, 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: https://lists.iq.harvard.edu/mailman/listinfo/ppe_list

All interested faculty and students are invited to attend.

Today's presenter:

Ekaterina Zhuravskaya (Paris School of Economics), "Reading Twitter in the Newsroom: How Social Media Affects Traditional-Media Reporting of Conflicts" (with Sophie Hatte & Etienne Madinier)


Traditional media is not immune to the influence of social media. Content trending in social media in Israel and Palestine have a significant causal impact on journalists’ reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the US. We rely on exogenous variation in the number of tweets about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict driven by local Twitter blackouts, caused by lightning strikes and technical failures. These blackouts, while having a strong and significant negative impact on Twitter activity in Israel and Palestine, do not have any effect on all major news wires reporting on the conflict. Using this variation, we show that comparable conflict events get significantly higher TV coverage in the US if they happen to trend on Twitter in Israel and Palestine. Using text analysis of transcripts of US TV programs, we document that the content and the tonality of coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is affected by social media. On average, Twitter makes traditional-media reporting of the conflict more emotional. Particularly, these are the events leading to Palestinian casualties that get significantly more emotional coverage by US TV when conflict-zone Twitter is not muted by blackouts. The US TV coverage of the events leading to Israeli casualties is emotional irrespective of the trends on Twitter. When Twitter is not muted in Israel and Palestine, the US TV reporters who cover the conflict focus more on stories about civilians’ suffering, the details of attacks, and the need for a long-term solution for the conflict, and focus less on the role of US foreign policy, aid, and Israeli defense systems. The results suggest that Twitter moves traditional-media reporting of conflict toward portraying the point of view of ordinary people, eventually helping the side that suffers a higher civilian death toll.

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.