Estimating Media Slant in Australia

Joshua Gans and I have a new paper out today on media slant. Here’s the abstract (click the title to see the full paper).

How Partisan is the Press? Multiple Measures of Media Slant
Joshua S. Gans & Andrew Leigh
We employ several different approaches to estimate the political position of Australian media outlets, relative to federal parliamentarians. First, we use parliamentary mentions to code over 100 public intellectuals on a left-right scale. We then estimate slant by using the number of mentions that each public intellectual receives in each media outlet. Second, we have independent raters separately code front-page election stories and headlines. Third, we tabulate the number of electoral endorsements that newspapers give to each side of politics in federal elections. Overall, we find that the Australian media are quite centrist, with very few outlets being statistically distinguishable from the middle of Australian politics. It is possible that this is due to the lack of competition in the Australian media market. To the extent that we can separate content slant from editorial slant, we find some evidence that editors are more partisan than journalists.

Across 27 media outlets, we find only two that stand out as partisan in either direction. Using our first approach, only ABC TV appears slanted (towards the Coalition – sorry, Mr Costello). And using the second and third approaches, only The Age appears slanted (towards Labor). On the whole, Australian journalists seem a centrist bunch; their editors a little less so.

5 thoughts on “Estimating Media Slant in Australia”

  1. Eyeballing the results in your tables it looks like the AFR is quite left-wing. That’s not consistent with perceptions (and certainly not my view). HAve you included the Friday ReView section which is likely to run a lot of arty, lefty type stuff simply by construction?

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