In an open capital market economy, guided by market signals, firms (and their managers) play an important role in the allocation of capital. Zingales (2000) proposes that the media may also play a role, perhaps positive, perhaps negative, in guiding firms (and their managers) in making capital allocation decisions. Dyck and Zingales (2002) develop this idea more fully. Given that the media collect, aggregate, disseminate, and amplify information, and to the extent that this information affects managers’ reputations, they propose that managers are sensitive to the way in which the media report and comment upon their decisions. Managers may even be sensitive to whether the media reports on their decisions at all. After all, a bad decision that goes unnoticed may be no worse than a good decision that goes equally unnoticed.
In our paper, The Role of the Media in Corporate Governance: Do the Media Influence Managers’ Capital Allocation Decisions?, forthcoming in the Journal of Financial Economics, we investigate whether, and to what extent, managers of publicly-traded U.S. corporations are sensitive to public news media in making one specific type of capital allocation decision. To wit: the decision of whether to complete or abandon a large proposed corporate acquisition that is accompanied by a negative stock market reaction at the announcement (“value-reducing acquisition attempt”). More specifically, we investigate whether the likelihood that a value-reducing acquisition attempt is abandoned is related to the level of media attention given to the attempt and to the tone of media coverage regarding the acquirer’s attempt at the time of the acquisition announcement.