Article about news reflecting/pandering to audience, not owners
May 3, 2014 8:14 AM   Subscribe

I could swear that in the last week or two there was a study that came out (by an economist I think, and it had won a prize - Nobel maybe or Pulitzer or something) about how the news is influenced by its audience more than by its owners. But I cannot find this article anywhere or remember the name of the study's author. Any ideas?
posted by yeahyeahyeah to Law & Government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure what to do with this question. Journalism is SUPPOSED to be beholden to its readers. That's how it works when it's done right. When it's done wrong, journalism is beholden to advertisers (faulty firewall), or to owners (partisan demagoguery or yellow journalism), or to subjects (cozy or corrupt reporters). When journalism unswervingly serves readers, that's just....journalism.
posted by Quisp Lover at 8:29 AM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

News sells views to advertisers. That is the business model. What that means is that the news will do whatever it takes to get more viewers EXCEPT anything that is counter to the advertisers' interests. So you could say that the news is most influenced by its viewers, with the constraint of not offending the advertisers.
posted by vash at 8:59 AM on May 3, 2014

Not to thread sit, but what I'm trying to find is a specific study that came out somewhat recently (last few weeks) by an economist that looked at what affected the newspapers/news organizations' type of stories and biases, and found that the owner's of those newspapers/organizations did not affect it much. That, in essence, the news panders to its audience.
posted by yeahyeahyeah at 9:07 AM on May 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Any decent media operation has a firewall. That is, everyone knows advertising pays the bills, but reporters are well-insulated from advertiser whims/demands/interests. If such a firewall is not in place, the result will always seem shoddy and, more importantly, no decent journalist would want to work there (and, for that matter, no decent advertiser would want to advertise there).

Of course, the term "decent" is relative, and if an operation seems to be going out of its way to continually attack a company which advertises, that would be an edge case. But anyone who thinks the CEO of the local department store picks up the phone and has the local newspaperman change an editorial position, endorse a candidate, or call off an investigative series, no, that doesn't happen except at really shit operations.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:07 AM on May 3, 2014

Sorry, didn't see your second posting before I posted that.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:08 AM on May 3, 2014

I know the piece you're talking about, so yes, it exists and there's been some coverage about it in the last few weeks. I will warm up the google-fu and see what turns up.
posted by rtha at 10:11 AM on May 3, 2014


Conventional wisdom holds that publishers impose their views on newsrooms. Not so, say Gentzkow and Shapiro. What actually happens is both more innocent and more insidious. Papers with more Republican readers tend to provide more conservative stories and language; papers in more liberal areas lean left in their coverage and story selection. (The study [PDF] involved 1,000 phrases reviewed in 429 newspapers, representing about 70 percent of the nation’s circulation. To gauge the politics of newspaper readers, Zip code-level data on voting patterns and circulation were matched.)
posted by rtha at 10:51 AM on May 3, 2014

This is it:
posted by Dansaman at 2:26 PM on May 3, 2014

Awesome! thanks so much. I did a google search also and couldn't turn it up. Just what I needed to find.
posted by yeahyeahyeah at 4:24 PM on May 4, 2014

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