When There Are No Media Effects: The Case of the Basler Zeitung
(Previously circulated with the title “Media Take-Over and Voting Behavior: Can Politician-Owned Newspapers Sway Voters?”)
A growing literature suggests that media affect political behavior, but we still know little about the conditionality of such effects. To shed light on this question, I draw on a theory of media power and exploit the sudden takeover of the Swiss regional daily Basler Zeitung by a leading right-wing politician. I find that the takover led to a right-wing turn in the newspaper’s immigration coverage and a reduction in its circulation rates, but there is no evidence that it systematically affected locals’ immigration attitudes or voting. These findings highlight that there are conditions under which media effects do not occur and suggest these might include the presence of strong signals of the owner’s political motives in high-choice media environments.
[Working Paper] [Online Appendix]