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Abstract

The objective of this paper is to understand the structural factors at play behind the adoption of media frames, defined as media signals over states of the world. Focusing on the newspaper media in parliamentary democracies with multi-party systems, this paper asks the following question: does the type of majority held by the government affect the media narrative? By incorporating both citizen preference for certain kind of sources and the media’s own strategic decision-making over the choice of sources for its information, the model proposed in this paper takes a step towards incorporating citizen preference, media decision-making, and the government’s own preference simultaneously. The independent variable for this study, the type of government majority, can be a single party majority or a coalition majority. The dependent variable is the polarity within news media measured by the difference in the sources cited in the reports of newspapers. The paper builds upon models of Bayesian Persuasion (Gentzkow and Kamenika 2011) to argue that when there is a single party majority there will be “polarity”, that is, for covering the same story newspapers will diverge in the kind of sources they prioritize, thereby favoring one kind of narrative over another. The implication is that one newspaper by itself does not cover the event from different perspectives adequately. In their coverage newspapers slant in directions different from one another, leading to emergence of polarization. By having similar distribution of the kind of sources cited, a coalition majority would be associated with a tendency for convergence in the narratives adopted by newspapers, the narratives adopted being more representative of the different opinions existing on the issue. The paper investigates the claims with two case studies from India.

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