DP17756 Who Watches the Watchmen? Local News and Police Behavior in the United States
Do U.S. municipal police departments respond to news coverage of local crime? We address this question exploiting an exogenous shock to local crime reporting induced by acquisitions of local TV stations by a large broadcast group, Sinclair. Using a unique dataset of 8.5 million news stories and a triple differences design, we document that Sinclair ownership decreases news coverage of local crime. This matters for policing: municipalities that experience the change in news coverage have lower violent crime clearance rates relative to municipalities that do not. The result is consistent with a decrease of crime salience in the public opinion.