Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Tom Patterson

Media Bias, Partisanship and What It Means for Democracy

April 17, 2014 – How are partisan media sources affecting the character of democracy? How extreme is media bias? What does the latest, deepest research say about these questions?

These topics were the focus of the 2014 Partisan Media Seminar Series held at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and organized by Matthew Baum, Kalb Professor of Global Communications at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Below are some highlights and audio from the seminars, and at bottom is a reading list selected by Journalist’s Resource relating to the scholars’ work in these areas:


The concluding discussion, “Partisanship in the Non-Partisan Press: The Implications of Media Bias for Democracy,” featured Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Pennsylvania; and Jesse Shapiro, Professor of Economics, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago. It was moderated by Thomas Patterson, Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press, Harvard Kennedy School.


Another event, titled “Do Partisan Media Matter for Democracy Today?” featured Kevin Arceneaux, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science at Temple University; and Natalie Stroud, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin. It was moderated by Matthew Baum.


The seminar series also featured Matthew Gentzkow, Richard O. Ryan Professor of Economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow, University of Chicago; and Tim Groeling, Associate Professor and Chair of Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles; and Marion Just, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College, and an associate of the Shorenstein Center.


Reading list:

  • “What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers,” Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro, Econometrica, 2010.
  • “Polarized Political Communication, Oppositional Media Hostility and Selective Exposure,” Kevin Arceneaux, Martin Johnsona and Chad Murphy. The Journal of Politics, 2012.


Article by John Wihbey. Photo by Nancy Palmer.