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The Impact of Media Bias: How Editorial Slant Affects Voters

Authors


James N. Druckman (druckman@northwestern.edu) is associate professor of political science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208.

Michael Parkin (mpakin@polisci.umn.edu) is a Ph.D. candidate of political science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0410.

Abstract

We investigate how editorial slant—defined as the quantity and tone of a newspaper's candidate coverage as influenced by its editorial position—shapes candidate evaluations and vote choice. We avoid various methodological pitfalls by focusing on a single Senate campaign in a single market with two competing, editorially distinct newspapers. Combining comprehensive content analyses of the papers with an Election Day exit poll, we assess the slant of campaign coverage and its effects on voters. We find compelling evidence that editorial slant influences voters’ decisions. Our results raise serious questions about the media's place in democratic processes.

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