We conduct across-outlet and within-outlet (and within-topic) analyses of “congenially” slanted news. We study “horse race” news (news on candidates' chances in an upcoming election) from six major online outlets for the 2012 and 2016 US presidential campaigns. We find robust evidence that horse race headlines were slanted congenially with respect to the preferences of the outlets' typical readers. However, evidence of congenial slant in the timing and frequency of horse race stories is weaker. We also find limited evidence of greater within-outlet demand for headlines most congenial to outlets' typical readers, and somewhat stronger evidence of greater demand for relatively uncongenial headlines. We discuss how various aspects of our results are consistent with each of the major mechanisms driving slant studied in the theoretical literature, and may help explain when each mechanism is more likely to come into play. In particular, readers may be more likely to click on uncongenial headlines due to inferring that these stories are particularly informative when they stand in contrast to an outlet's typically congenial slant.
Garz, Marcel; Sood, Gaurav; Stone, Daniel F.; and Wallace, Justin, "The supply of media slant across outlets and demand for slant within outlets: Evidence from US presidential campaign news" (2020). Economics Faculty Publications. 35.