Research ArticleSOCIAL SCIENCES

There is no liberal media bias in which news stories political journalists choose to cover

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Science Advances  01 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 14, eaay9344
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay9344
  • Fig. 1 Ideological composition of journalists (survey).

    The figure displays the ideological/partisan leanings of journalists among those willing to attach themselves to a specific ideological/partisan direction. Among all surveyed journalists, 60% indicate being Democrats or Democratic leaners and 23% identify as independents (46% identify as independents when including independents who lean toward a party). This data comes from our survey of journalists (2017; N = 1511). As a reference, Willnat and Weaver (23) report 79% of partisan identifiers as being Democrats.

  • Fig. 2 Ideological composition of journalists (Twitter networks).

    The figure displays a kernel density of ideological/partisan leanings of journalists based on the people they choose to follow on Twitter. The measure uses the Bayesian ideal point approach by Barberá (25). N = 6801.

  • Fig. 3 Effect of candidate ideology on journalist responses.

    The figure displays raw response rates by treatment condition (left) and the coefficients from a regression that benchmarks the three treatments listed to a strong progressive (right). Bars (left) display mean levels; points (right) are coefficient estimates. Lines surrounding points/bars are 95% confidence intervals. Both are labeled in the figures. The figure also labels the direction of ideological biases in the figure, be they liberal or conservative. The distributions to the right show results from permutation tests that randomly shuffle the data and estimate a treatment effect for each shuffle. The model includes controls for journalist’s position, topical focus, gender, and percent democrat in their constituency, along with state fixed effects. Model N = 13,443.

  • Fig. 4 Experimental effect by social context and journalist ideology.

    Correspondence experiment effects by newspaper readership and journalist ideology are shown. Both panels display the coefficients from a regression that benchmarks the three treatments listed to a strong progressive. Black lines are 95% confidence intervals; points are coefficient estimates. Both models control for journalist’s position, topical focus, and gender. Panel (A) breaks the regression models by Trump vote share in the 2016 election. Panel (B) models are broken into terciles by the Twitter ideology scores. Model N (top left) = 6717; model N (top right) = 6726; model N (bottom left) = 2233; model N (bottom center) = 2242; model N (bottom right) = 2307.

  • Fig. 5 Effect of candidate ideology on journalist responses (conjoint experiment).

    The figure displays favorable coverage indicated by the two partisan conditions in the conjoint experiment that was embedded in our survey of journalists. Bars indicate mean levels; lines show 95% confidence intervals (P = 0.17). Experimental N = 3276. The other conditions randomized in the conjoint experiment had to do with the race, gender, candidate quality, social class, campaign manager connections and experience, and issue being addressed.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    There is no liberal media bias in which news stories political journalists choose to cover

    Hans J. G. Hassell, John B. Holbein, Matthew R. Miles

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