Partisan Bias in Economic News


Can newspapers influence public opinion based on their coverage of economic matters? That’s the question Melissa Lafsky asks in the New York Times Freakanomics blog, citing a buzzy paper entitled ”Partisan Bias in Economic News: Evidence on the Agenda-Setting Behavior of U.S. Newspapers.” In the paper three professors — Riccardo Puglisi, James Snyder and Valentino Larcinese — examined ”a large sample” of American newspapers over the last decade, identifying whether or not they were liberal or conservative based on their endorsement policies. What they learned:

”We find evidence that newspapers with [a] pro-Democratic endorsement pattern systematically give more coverage to high unemployment when the incumbent president is a Republican than when the president is Democratic, compared to newspapers with [a] pro-Republican endorsement pattern. This result is not driven by the partisanship of readers. There is on the contrary no evidence of a partisan bias — or at least of a bias that is correlated with the endorsement policy — for stories on inflation, budget deficit or trade deficit.”

Is objectivity a naive myth?

(image via clipart)