Journal Article

A Spatial Theory of Media Slant and Voter Choice

J. Duggan and C. Martinelli

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 78, issue 2, pages 640-666
Published in print April 2011 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online February 2011 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/restud/rdq009
A Spatial Theory of Media Slant and Voter Choice

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  • Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy
  • Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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We develop a theory of media slant as a systematic filtering of political news that reduces multidimensional politics to the one-dimensional space perceived by voters. Economic and political choices are interdependent in our theory: expected electoral results influence economic choices, and economic choices in turn influence voting behaviour. In a two-candidate election, we show that media favouring the front-runner will focus on issues unlikely to deliver a surprise, while media favouring the underdog will gamble for resurrection. We characterize the socially optimal slant and show that it coincides with the one favoured by the underdog under a variety of circumstances. Balanced media, giving each issue equal coverage, may be worse for voters than partisan media.

Keywords: Media slant; Media effects; Spatial model; Voting; D72; D83

Journal Article.  12675 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy ; Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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