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American newspapers are in the tank for puppies

American media has a vicious, unabashed pro-dog bias.

That's the takeaway from a fun new study that Philip Bump at the Washington Post writes about, which looks at how likely regional papers are to pick up stories that run in the New York Times (many local papers rely on the Times as a wire service). It looked at stories that ran on the front page, and those that ran on the last page of the national section — and included a dog. Here's more from Bump on the methods:

To determine the value of canines to the popularity of news stories, Matthew Atkinson of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Maria Dean and Joseph Uscinski of the University of Miami, identified 18 dog-related and 334 non-dog-related stories that appeared in the national section of the New York Times since 2000. The team then checked ten other newspapers (both local and national) to see which stories got picked up the next day.

And it turns out, dogs matter. A lot. A dog story that ran on the last page of the national section was 2.6 times more likely to turn up elsewhere the next day than the more mundane, puppy-free news. A story that runs on the front page of the New York Times, meanwhile, is 3.1 times more likely to get a regional re-print the next day than the non-dog back page stories.

dog chart

"Having a canine subject in a national news event produced coverage of a story that was 80 percent as large as the effect of the difference between being NYT front-page and back-page worthy," authors Matthew D. Atkinson, Maria Deam and Joseph e. Uscinski write.

No research was done on whether the media has similar biases on cats — or whether the breed of the dog played any role.

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