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Tabloid media campaigns and public opinion: quasi-experimental evidence on Euroscepticism in England

Foos, Florian ORCID: 0000-0003-4456-3799 and Bischof, Daniel (2022) Tabloid media campaigns and public opinion: quasi-experimental evidence on Euroscepticism in England. American Political Science Review, 116 (1). pp. 19-37. ISSN 1537-5943

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S000305542100085X


Whether powerful media outlets have effects on public opinion has been at the heart of theoretical and empirical discussions about the media's role in political life. Yet, the effects of media campaigns are difficult to study because citizens self-select into media consumption. Using a quasi-experiment-the 30-year boycott of the most important Eurosceptic tabloid newspaper, The Sun, in Merseyside caused by the Hillsborough soccer disaster-we identify the effects of The Sun boycott on attitudes toward leaving the EU. Difference-in-differences designs using public opinion data spanning three decades, supplemented by referendum results, show that the boycott caused EU attitudes to become more positive in treated areas. This effect is driven by cohorts socialized under the boycott and by working-class voters who stopped reading The Sun. Our findings have implications for our understanding of public opinion, media influence, and ways to counter such influence in contemporary democracies.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2021 11:42
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2024 07:30

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