“Identifying Strategic Framing of Foreign Elections by China’s State Media.”
Abstract: Do the state media of autocracies selectively cover democratic elections in a negative light? This study leverages elections as a source of exogenous variation to identify whether China's state media engages in biased coverage of liberal democratic institutions. It compares coverage between a major Chinese outlet, Xinhua, and a comparison news outlet, Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA), with the goal of determining whether net sentiment of news coverage diverges in the periods surrounding elections. Additionally, I compare their coverage of both democratic and non-democratic elections, as well as elections for legislative and executive office using a difference-in-differences identification strategy. I find that democratic elections cause more negative coverage to be produced by Xinhua and that this effect is primarily driven by elections for the executive branch. This is the first study to demonstrate a link between a media strategy of an authoritarian regime and political participation in liberal democratic political institutions using quasi-experimental methods.