Expert Commentary

Media bias, partisanship and what it means for democracy: Research chat and reading list

Highlights and audio from a series of 2014 seminars held at the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as a reading list of related work by the scholars, selected by Journalist's Resource.


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 and related topics were the focus of several 2014 research seminars held at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and organized by Matthew Baum, Marvin 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; 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:

  • “News Coverage in Political Campaigns,” in Handbook of Political Communication Research, Girish J. Gulati, Marion R. Just and Ann N. Crigler, 2004.

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