The press is essential for creating an informed citizenry, but its existence depends on attracting and maintaining an audience. It is unclear whether supply-side effects – including those dictated by the owners of the media – influence how the media cover politics, yet this question is essential given their abilities to set the agenda and frame issues that are covered. We examine how ownership influences media behavior by investigating the impact of Rupert Murdoch’s purchase of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in August 2007. We collect data on every front-page story and editorial for 27 months, and we compare the difference in political coverage between the New York Times (NYT) and WSJ using a difference-in-differences design. We show that the amount of political content in the opinion pages of the two papers were unchanged by the sale, but the WSJ’s front-page coverage of politics increased markedly relative to the NYT. Similar patterns emerge when comparing the WSJ’s content to the USA Today and the Washington Post. Our finding highlights potential limits to journalists’ ability to fulfill their supposed watchdog role in democracies without interference from owners in the boardroom.

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Post-print Article

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Copyright © 2017 Taylor & Francis.

DOI: 10.1080/10584609.2017.1375581

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Full Citation:

Archer, Allison M., and Joshua Clinton. "Changing Owners, Changing Content: Does Who Owns the News Matter for the News?" Political Communication, 2017, 1-18. doi:10.1080/10584609.2017.1375581.