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Keywords:

  • Bias;
  • text categorization;
  • media ownership

We construct a new index of media slant that measures the similarity of a news outlet's language to that of a congressional Republican or Democrat. We estimate a model of newspaper demand that incorporates slant explicitly, estimate the slant that would be chosen if newspapers independently maximized their own profits, and compare these profit-maximizing points with firms' actual choices. We find that readers have an economically significant preference for like-minded news. Firms respond strongly to consumer preferences, which account for roughly 20 percent of the variation in measured slant in our sample. By contrast, the identity of a newspaper's owner explains far less of the variation in slant.