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Tabloid Media Campaigns and Public Opinion: Quasi-Experimental Evidence on Euroscepticism in England

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  • Florian Foos, The London School of Economics and Political Science
  • ,
  • Daniel Bischof

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.

TidsskriftAmerican Political Science Review
Sider (fra-til)19-37
Antal sider19
StatusUdgivet - feb. 2022

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