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The Slant of the News: How Editorial Endorsements Influence Campaign Coverage and Citizens' Views of Candidates

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 June 2002

KIM FRIDKIN KAHN
Affiliation:
Professor of Political Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287 (kahn@asu.edu).
PATRICK J. KENNEY
Affiliation:
Professor of Political Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287 (pkenney@asu.edu).

Abstract

One of the essential elements of an impartial press in the United States is the “wall of separation” between the editorial pages and the pages devoted to the news. While the political beliefs of newspaper owners and editors are clearly articulated on opinion pages, their views are not supposed to infiltrate the reporting of the news. The analyses presented in this paper raise questions about this claim. We examine newspaper coverage of more than 60 Senatorial campaigns across three election years and find that information on news pages is slanted in favor of the candidate endorsed on the newspaper's editorial page. We find that the coverage of incumbent Senators is most affected by the newspaper's endorsement decision. We explore the consequences of “slanted” news coverage by showing that voters evaluate endorsed candidates more favorably than candidates who fail to secure an editorial endorsement. The impact of the endorsement decision on voters' evaluations is most powerful in races receiving a great deal of press attention and among citizens who read their local newspaper on a daily basis.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2002 by the American Political Science Association

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