Media Coverage, Alternative Facts, War and Cyberwarfare
Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM
- Chair: Carlos Seiglie, Rutgers University
War of the Waves: Radio and Resistance During World War II
AbstractWhat is the role of the media in coordinating and mobilizing insurgency against a foreign military occupation? We analyze this question in the context of the Nazi-fascist occupation of Italy during WWII. We study the effect of BBC radio (Radio Londra) on the intensity of internal resistance to the Nazi-fascist regime. By exploiting variations in monthly sunspot activity that affect the sky-wave propagation of BBC broadcasting towards Italy, we show that BBC radio had a strong impact on political violence. We provide further evidence to document that BBC radio played an important role in coordinating resistance activities, but had no lasting role in motivating the population against the fascist regime.
Facts, Alternative Facts, and Fact Checking in Times of Post-Truth Politics
AbstractHow persuasive are "alternative facts" i.e., false statements by populist politicians, in convincing voters? How effective is fact checking in countervailing alternative facts? We conduct a randomized online experiment to evaluate the impact of alternative facts and fact checking on knowledge, beliefs, and political preferences of voters in the context of the 2017 French presidential election campaign. Marine Le Pen (MLP), the extreme-right candidate who reached the runoff, regularly used alternative facts in support of her policy proposals, to which mainstream media responded with systematic fact checking. We expose randomly selected subgroups of a sample of 2480 voting-age French to quotes from MLP and/or real facts. The results are as follows. First, alternative facts are highly persuasive. Second, fact checking improves factual knowledge of voters, but does not have an impact on voters' policy conclusions or support for MLP. Third, providing only the true facts backfires by increasing political support for MLP compared to a control group, although to a smaller extent than alternative facts. Finally, heterogeneity of voters with respect to prior voting choices and prior knowledge is important for the effect of treatments on political preferences.
Insecurity and Industrial Organization: Evidence from Afghanistan
AbstractOne-fifth of the world's population lives in countries affected by fragility, violence and conflict, impeding long-term economic growth. However, little is known about how firms respond to local changes in security, partly because of the difficulty of measuring firm activity in these settings. This paper presents a novel methodology for observing private sector activity using mobile phone metadata. Using Afghanistan as the empirical setting, the analysis combines mobile phone data from over 2,300 firms with data from several other sources to develop and validate measures of firm location, size, and economic activity. Combining these new measures of firm activity with geocoded data on violent events, the paper investigates how the private sector in Afghanistan responds to insecurity. The findings indicate that firms reduce presence in districts following major increases in violence, that these effects persist for up to six months, and that larger firms are more responsive to violence. The paper concludes with a discussion of potential mechanisms, firms' strategic adaptations, and implications for policymakers.
- F5 - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
- H8 - Miscellaneous Issues