Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-78dcdb465f-bmnx5 Total loading time: 0.348 Render date: 2021-04-19T23:28:24.809Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

How Newspapers Reveal Political Power

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2018

Abstract

Political science is in large part the study of power, but power itself is difficult to measure. We argue that we can use newspaper coverage—in particular, the relative amount of space devoted to particular subjects in newspapers—to measure the relative power of an important set of political actors and offices. We use a new dataset containing nearly 50 million historical newspaper pages from 2,700 local US newspapers over the years 1877–1977. We define and discuss a measure of power we develop based on observed word frequencies, and we validate it through a series of analyses. Overall, we find that the relative coverage of political actors and of political offices is a strong indicator of political power for the cases we study. To illustrate its usefulness, we then apply the measure to understand when (and where) state party committees lost their power. Taken together, the paper sheds light on the nature of political news coverage and offers both a new dataset and a new measure for studying political power in a wide set of contexts.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
© The European Political Science Association 2018 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.

Footnotes

*

Pamela Ban is a PhD Candidate, Department of Government, 1737 Cambridge Street, CGIS Knafel Building Room 423, Cambridge, MA 02138 (pban@fas.harvard.edu). Alexander Fouirnaies is an Assistant Professor, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago, 1155 E 60th St, Chicago, IL 60637 (fouirnaies@uchicago.edu). Andrew B. Hall is an Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Encina Hall, Stanford University, 616 Serra Mall #100, Stanford, CA 94305 (andrewbhall@stanford.edu). James M. Snyder is a Professor, Department of Government, 1737 Cambridge Street, CGIS Knafel Building Room 423, Cambridge, MA 02138 (jsnyder@gov.harvard.edu). For in-depth discussant comments, the authors thank Jordi Blanes i Vidal, Ethan Kaplan, and Daniel Moskowitz. For helpful discussion the authors thank participants of the Princeton/Warwick Political Economy Conference in Venice, Italy, the American Politics Research Workshop at Harvard University, and the PECO Conference in Washington, DC. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit https://doi.org/10.1017/psrm.2017.43

References

Bachrach, Peter, and Baratz, Morton S. 1962. ‘Two Faces of Power’. American Political Science Review 56(4):947952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Banzhaf, John F III. 1968. ‘One Man, 3.312 Votes: A Mathematical Analysis of the Electoral College’. Villanova Law Review 13:304.Google Scholar
Baron, David. 2006. ‘Persistent Media Bias’. Journal of Public Economics 90:136.Google Scholar
Bovitz, Gregory, Druckman, James, and Lupia, Arthur. 2002. ‘When Can a News Organization Lead Public Opinion? Ideology Versus Market Forces in Decisions to Make News’. Public Choice 113:127152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brants, Kees, and van Praag, Philip. 2006. ‘Signs of Media Logic: Half a Century of Political Communication in the Netherlands’. Javnost – The Public 13(1):2540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bullock, Charles, and Sprague, John. 1969. ‘A Research Note on the Committee Reassignments of Southern Democratic Congressmen’. The Journal of Politics 31(2):493512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clinton, Joshua, Jackman, Simon, and Rivers, Douglas. 2004. ‘The Statistical Analysis of Roll Call Data’. American Political Science Review 98(2):355370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Demsetz, Harold, and Lehn, Kenneth. 1985. ‘The Structure of Corporate Ownership: Causes and Consequences’. Journal of Political Economy 93(6):11551177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Galtung, Johan, and Ruge, Mari Holmboe. 1965. ‘The Structure of Foreign News: The Presentation of the Congo, Cuba and Cyprus Crises in Four Norwegian Newspapers’. Journal of Peace Research 2(1):6490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gentzkow, Matthew, and Shapiro, Jesse M. 2006. ‘Media Bias and Reputation’. Journal of Political Economy 114(2):280316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gentzkow, Matthew, and Shapiro, Jesse M. 2010. ‘What Drives the Media Slant? Evidence from U.S. Daily Newspapers’. Econometrica 78(1):3571.Google Scholar
Grimmer, Justin, and Stewart, Brandon M. 2013. ‘Text as Data: The Promise and Pitfalls of Automatic Content Analysis Methods for Political Texts’. Political Analysis 21:131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Groseclose, Tim, and Charles Stewart, III. 1998. ‘The Value of Committee Seats in the House, 1947-91’. American Journal of Political Science 42(2):453474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Groseclose, Timothy, and Milyo, Jeffrey. 2005. ‘A Measure of Media Bias’. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 120(4):11911237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hopkins, Daniel J, and King, Gary. 2010. ‘A Method of Automated Nonparametric Content Analysis for Social Science’. American Journal of Political Science 54(1):229247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hopmann, David Nicolas, de Vreese, Claes H, and Albaek, Erik. 2011. ‘Incumbency Bonus in Election News Coverage Explained: The Logics of Political Power and the Media Market’. Journal of Communication 61(2):264282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Josephson, Matthew. 1964. The Politicos. New York: Harcourt Brace Press.Google Scholar
Kahn, Kim Fridkin, and Kenney, Patrick J. 2002. ‘The Slant of the News: How Editorial Endorsements Influence Campaign Coverage and Citizens’ Views of Candidates’. American Political Science Review 96:381394.Google Scholar
Kehl, James A. 1981. Boss Rule in the Gilded Age: Matt Quay of Pennsylvania. University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
Larcinese, Valentino, Puglisi, Riccardo, and James M. Snyder, Jr. 2007. ‘Partisan Bias in Economic News: Evidence on the Agenda-Setting Behavior of U.S. Newspapers’. Journal of Public Economics 95(9):11781189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laver, Michael, Benoit, Kenneth, and Garry, John. 2003. ‘Extracting Policy Positions from Political Texts Using Words as Data’. American Political Science Review 97(2):311331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Macy, Jesse. 1918. Party Organization and Machinery. New York: The Century Co.Google Scholar
Mayhew, David R. 1986. Placing Parties in American Politics: Organization, Electoral Settings, and Government Activity in the Twentieth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McQuail, Dennis. 1992. Media Performance: Mass Communication and the Public Interest. London: Sage.Google Scholar
Mullainathan, Sendhil, and Shleifer, Andrei. 2005. ‘The Market for News’. American Economic Review 95(4):10311053.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Munger, Michael C. 1988. ‘Allocation of Desirable Committee Assignments: Extended Queues Versus Committee Expansion’. American Journal of Political Science 32(2):317344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Micciche, Salvatorie J. 1964. ‘Reform Forces Riding High’, Boston Globe, 22 November, p. A-4.Google Scholar
Poole, Keith T, and Rosenthal, Howard. 1985. ‘A Spatial Model for Legislative Roll Call Analysis’. American Journal of Political Science 29(2):357384.Google Scholar
Puglisi, Riccardo, and James M. Snyder, Jr. 2011. ‘Newspaper Coverage of Political Scandals’. Journal of Politics 73(3):931950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ray, Bruce A. 1982. ‘Committee Attractiveness in the U.S. House, 1963-1981’. American Journal of Political Science 26(3):609613.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reichley, A. James. 1992. ‘The Life of the Parties.’ A History of American Political Parties. New York: Maxwell.Google Scholar
Roshco, Bernard. 1975. Newsmaking. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Shapley, Lloyd S, and Shubik, Martin. 1954. ‘A Method for Evaluating the Distribution of Power in a Committee System’. American Political Science Review 48(3):787792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shoemaker, Pamela, Eichholz Director, Martin, Kim, Eunyi, and Wrigley, Brenda. 2001. ‘Individual and Routine Forces in Gatekeeping’. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 78(2):233246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tausanovitch, Chris, and Warshaw, Christopher. 2013. ‘Measuring Constituent Policy Preferences in Congress, State Legislatures, and Cities’. Journal of Politics 75(2):330342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tausanovitch, Chris, and Warshaw, Christopher. 2014. ‘Representation in Municipal Government’. American Political Science Review 108(3):605641.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trench, Anke. 2009. ‘Politicians in the Media: Determinants of Legislators’ Presence and Prominence in Swiss Newspapers’. The International Journal of Press/Politics 14(1):6790.Google Scholar

Ban et al. supplementary material

Ban et al. supplementary material 1

PDF 11 MB

Ban et al. Dataset

Link

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 183
Total number of PDF views: 770 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 11th January 2018 - 19th April 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

How Newspapers Reveal Political Power
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

How Newspapers Reveal Political Power
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

How Newspapers Reveal Political Power
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response


Your details


Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *