How Healthy Is the Economy? It Depends Where You Get Your News

There have been a flurry of economic papers addressing the issue of media bias or media “slant” in recent years. Leading examples of these include research by Tim Groseclose and Jeff Milyo, Matt Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro, and Andrei Shleifer and Sendhil Mullainathan.

In the introduction to their paper published in the American Economic Review, Shleifer and Mullainathan provide the following hypothetical example:


Would this sort of thing actually happen in the real world? You be the judge.

Here are the headlines from Thursday’s New York Times and Washington Post:


The full texts of the New York Times story and the Washington Post story are here and here.

(Hat tip: Matt Gentzkow)


"a recent interview with prius dealers shows the economy is booming..."


C'mon, this is a prime example of the glass being half empty/half full. The answer is in the eyes of the beholder. Trust the headline from the media outlet whose views most accurately emulate your own personal perspective and you will have the answer.


Just reading the ledes on those stories shoots a ton of holes in this post. I mean, the paragraphs are published right there under the headlines!

NYT: ". . .dimming the outlook of a quick recovery."

WaPo: " . . .raising the prospect of weaker performance in the months ahead."

The stories are very much the same. This is a poor example of your point.

Just because you can find an economist to spin any offical statistic to mean whatever they want, isn't evidence of media bias.