, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 29-50
Date: 26 Aug 2009

The Neglected Power of Elite Opinion Leadership to Produce Antipathy Toward the News Media: Evidence from a Survey Experiment

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Abstract

Today, most Americans dislike the news media as an institution. This has led to considerable debate about why people dislike the media and how their public standing could be improved. This paper contributes to this literature by using a survey experiment to test the effect of several different considerations on evaluations of the media. It finds, consistent with the broader literature on political persuasion, that elite partisan opinion leadership can powerfully shape these attitudes. Additionally, it finds that tabloid coverage creates antipathy toward the press regardless of predispositions and that horserace coverage has a negative effect on opinions among politically aware citizens on both sides of the political spectrum. Contrary to some claims in the literature, this study finds no detectable effect of news negativity.