Is Journalistic Truth Dead? Measuring How Informed Voters Are about Political News

Is Journalistic Truth Dead? Measuring How Informed Voters Are about Political News

Online seminar 4th June 2021, 12h30-13h30 (CET)
  • Actualité Sciences PoActualité Sciences Po

4th June, 12h30-13h30 

Online seminar co-organized with the Department of Economics (Sciences Po) 

Mandatory registration


Andrea PRAT (Visiting professor at LIEPP and Department of Economics from May 31st to June 25th 2021) is the Richard Paul Richman Professor of Business at Columbia Business School and Professor of Economics at the Department of Economics, Columbia University . He is editor-in-chief of the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, an Associate Editor of Theoretical Economics and a director of the Industrial Organisation programme of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR). Professor Prat was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2011 and a Fellow of the Econometric Society in 2013.

His research focuses on organisational economics and political economy. His current research in organisational economics explores - through theoretical modeling, field experiments, and data analysis - issues such as organisational design, corporate leadership, employee motivation, and optimal disclosure. His current research in political economy attempts to define and measure the influence of the media industry on the democratic process.

During this seminar, Andrea Prat will present his paper, co-signed with Charles Angelucci (MIT): 

Is Journalistic Truth Dead? Measuring How Informed Voters Are about Political News 


Are voters able to distinguish real news from fake news? We develop a methodology that combines a protocol for identifying major mainstream real news stories, a quiz administered to survey participants, and the structural estimation of a model that disentangles individual information levels from news story salience. We focus on news about US domestic politics in a monthly sample of 1,000 US voters repeated 8 times. On average, 59% of voters confidently identify the major story of the month, 39% are uncertain, and 3% confidently identify it as false. Also, on average 12% of voters believe fake news stories. While partisan bias affects whether an individual believes a specific news story, socioeconomic characteristics play an even larger role in determining voter information. Our results indicate that the starkest pattern about the ability of voters to identify major news stories is not the generalized death of truth or its ideological polarization but rather its unequal distribution along socioeconomic lines.

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