Bloomberg News columnist Amity Shlaes took a look at a study by two University of Chicago economists that examined whether news content in papers lined up with the political views of their owners to determine whether News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch will change the content of The Wall Street Journal if he buys its parent, Dow JonesÂ & Co.
Shlaes wrote, “But there was a surprise. The politics of the papers didn’t necessarily line up with the politics of their owners. They lined up, rather, with voting patterns in the zip codes that the papers served. This was true even for Murdoch’s New York Post, whose news coverage turned out to be only an increment more “Republican” than that of the liberal New York Times. News article word choice, Gentzkow told me, ‘fits the taste of the readership in those city markets.’
“What about when the boss changes? Genztkow and Shapiro followed three newspapers that changed ownership during the period of their study, 2000-2005: the Los Angeles Times, the papers Thomson Corp. sold to Gannett, and 16 daily newspapers that Lee Enterprises Inc. acquired from Howard Newspapers.
“In none of the cases was the change in political leaning of the paper statistically significant. Most interesting of all, it turned out that individual newspapers’ politics might differ according to the politics of their audience, even when the newspapers have the same owner.”
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