Media competition and media slant in Swedish newspapers

The recent emergence of radical and populist forces in many Western countries illustrates how powerful information disseminated by news media can be, especially when the information is biased or fake news. The economic literature on media bias has substantially grown over the past decade, but empirical studies on the effects of media competition on media bias are scarce and provide mixed results. This research gap is worrisome, as the optimal degree of competition in local news markets to provide a diversity of opinions remains ambiguous in practice. This project addresses this gap by investigating local Swedish newspaper markets. Specially, we (1) construct an index of ideological slant, (2) investigate which motives of media owners drive the slant, and (3) estimate the causal effect of competition on slant. On the one hand, the project will contribute to the economic literature on media bias and media regulation. On the other hand, it will provide recommendations that are relevant to policy makers and competition authorities – in particular, to inform the debate on press subsidies.

Project duration: 2020-2022

Project members:

  • Marcel Garz, Associate professor in Economics, Jönköping International Business School
  • Jonna Rickardsson, PhD candidate in Economics, Jönköping International Business School

Project financier: Konkurrensverket (Swedish Competition Authority)