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Government distortion in independently owned media: evidence from U.S. Cold War news coverage of human rights


Qian, Nancy; Yanagizawa-Drott, David (2017). Government distortion in independently owned media: evidence from U.S. Cold War news coverage of human rights. Journal of the European Economic Association, 15(2):463-499.

Abstract

This study provides evidence of government distortion of news coverage among independently owned media outlets in a democratic regime. It uses data from 1946 to 2010 and documents that U.S. news coverage of human rights abuses committed by foreign governments was associated with membership on the United Nations Security Council and the degree of political alliance with the United States. For countries that were not allied with the United States, coverage increased with membership; for countries that are strongly allied with the United States, coverage decreased with membership. There is an analogous effect on reports of human rights abuses by the U.S. State Department, but no such effect on human rights practices according to other measures. The results are driven by the Reagan and Bush Sr. Administrations, 1981–1992, a period during which the government was known to have actively influenced the press.

Abstract

This study provides evidence of government distortion of news coverage among independently owned media outlets in a democratic regime. It uses data from 1946 to 2010 and documents that U.S. news coverage of human rights abuses committed by foreign governments was associated with membership on the United Nations Security Council and the degree of political alliance with the United States. For countries that were not allied with the United States, coverage increased with membership; for countries that are strongly allied with the United States, coverage decreased with membership. There is an analogous effect on reports of human rights abuses by the U.S. State Department, but no such effect on human rights practices according to other measures. The results are driven by the Reagan and Bush Sr. Administrations, 1981–1992, a period during which the government was known to have actively influenced the press.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:April 2017
Deposited On:31 May 2017 14:12
Last Modified:31 May 2017 14:14
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1542-4766
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/jeea/jvx007

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