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Whose News? Class-Biased Economic News in the United States

Jacobs, AM; Matthews, JS; Hicks, T; Merkley, E; (2021) Whose News? Class-Biased Economic News in the United States. American Political Science Review 10.1017/S0003055421000137. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

There is substantial evidence that voters’ choices are shaped by assessments of the state of the economy and that these assessments, in turn, are influenced by the news. But how does the economic news track the welfare of different income groups in an era of rising inequality? Whose economy does the news cover? Drawing on a large new dataset of US news content, we demonstrate that the tone of the economic news strongly and disproportionately tracks the fortunes of the richest households, with little sensitivity to income changes among the non-rich. Further, we present evidence that this pro-rich bias emerges not from pro-rich journalistic preferences but, rather, from the interaction of the media’s focus on economic aggregates with structural features of the relationship between economic growth and distribution. The findings yield a novel explanation of distributionally perverse electoral patterns and demonstrate how distributional biases in the economy condition economic accountability.

Type: Article
Title: Whose News? Class-Biased Economic News in the United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S0003055421000137
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003055421000137
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10122182
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