Media Ownership and News Coverage of International Conflict

[joint work with Matthew A. Baum]

Abstract: How does media ownership shape news coverage of international conflict? We examine this relationship using a new dataset of 560,128 articles on U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, published by 2,322 newspapers in 114 countries. We find that newspaper ownership structures and networks play an important role in shaping the nature and extent of news coverage. Higher circulation, independent newspapers offer more extensive coverage and place greater emphasis on hard news topics and themes, while papers within larger ownership networks display the opposite patterns, net of circulation. Newspapers owned by the same parent company also tend to feature very similar types of news coverage, and these within-network similarities may have increased in the last decade. By shaping the scope, tone and content of news coverage, media ownership plays an important role in determining whether and under what circumstances citizens support their countries' foreign policies.