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Print it yourself! – Grassroots efforts against misinformation

07.03.2023 14:00 CET Hybrid: IOS (Room 109) and online Seminar Series of the Economics Dept.

Talk by  Dr. Attila Gaspar (KRTK-KTI, Budapest) as part of the Research Seminar Series of the IOS Economics Department.

Can increasing access to independent information sources pierce the authoritarian information space? In this paper we ask this question by looking at the case of Hungary. We study the electoral impact of a grass-roots movement (Nyomtasste is, or "Print It Yourself" in English) that distributes printed newsletters to small towns and villages in rural Hungary. These newsletters compile politically relevant news stories from independent media outlets that were mostly hushed up by the mainstream pro-government media ecosystem. We use one data set on settlement level distribution data and another on geo-referenced delivery routes to show that the newsletter had a small but considerable positive effect on opposition support and turnout during the Hungarian national election of 2022. In our preferred specification a fully canvassed precinct was expected to have +2.2 percentage points of opposition vote share compared to one where the newsletter was not distributed at all (within-settlement). The coefficients on newsletter distribution in some specifications are an order of magnitude smaller than the coefficients on opposition campaign efforts, suggesting that the (lack of) on-the-ground visibility of opposition politicians were probably a larger factor in shaping the election result (a resounding win for Fidesz), than the public's access to news stories.

Participation via Zoom: Link
Meeting ID: 677 3228 5839
Pass code: 482680

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