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Advertising and media capture: The case of climate change

Graham Beattie

Journal of Public Economics, 2020, vol. 188, issue C

Abstract: This paper analyzes whether media capture by advertisers is a potential source of the divergence between the scientific consensus and public discourse about climate change. I develop an objective measure of the tone of climate change coverage by creating an index that builds on Gentzkow and Shapiro (2010), using phrase frequency analysis to compare newspaper text with the UN's IPCC reports and the Heartland Institute's skeptical response, each of which are lengthy official reports with clear stances on climate change. I also develop a measure of potential advertising from the auto industry, using national shocks to advertising at the manufacturer level weighted by previous advertising at the newspaper level. The empirical analysis shows that this potential advertising allows firms to capture newspapers: within-newspaper, the potential for advertising from car manufacturers shifts the tone of coverage towards skepticism. I also find suggestive evidence that potential advertising reduces the overall quantity of coverage of climate change.

Keywords: Climate change; Media coverage; Media capture; Advertising (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L82 Q5 Q51 Q54 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104219

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