Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Economists Look at Fox

Rarely would I read something published in the Journal of Public Economics. Just not my thing. But the June 2015 issue includes a study of political knowledge and Fox News. Maybe you can see the study, maybe not. I see it because I'm on my office computer and academic journals recognize the IP, thus granting me me complete access. Your mileage may differ.

First, a few key points about the study:
  • It didn't cite me, and I've published a couple of things on Fox and political knowledge. We all agree that's an academic death sentence.
  • The reference list is odd, if you happen to be steeped in research in political knowledge and, especially, media effects. By odd, I mean limited. Parochial. Narrow. Hell, it cites The Hollywood Reporter. There are a few solid political science cites, so that's something.
  • Like most economic papers, it attempts to baffle you with methodological bullshit. A lot of analyses are tossed your way. That said, this study cobbles together some interesting data far beyond the usual collection of national surveys, though at its heart it does rely on the Annenberg surveys for its political knowledge questions. Still, some sophisticated stuff here.
What's the takeaway? Fox matters, and not in surprising ways. Watching Fox has Republican effects. This is comforting in that it's nice to know not just masscomm dares research the obvious. Also: "This evidence generally suggests that Fox News influenced knowledge in a partisan way." Again, lots of studies have shown this (not cited here, unfortunately).

I suppose it doesn't exist until an economist finds it.

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