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Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers

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  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Jesse M. Shapiro
  • Michael Sinkinson

Abstract

We study the competitive forces that shaped ideological diversity in the US press in the early twentieth century. We find that households preferred like-minded news and that newspapers used their political orientation to differentiate from competitors. We formulate a model of newspaper demand, entry, and political affiliation choice in which newspapers compete for both readers and advertisers. We use a combination of estimation and calibration to identify the model’s parameters from novel data on newspaper circulation, costs, and revenues. The estimated model implies that competition enhances ideological diversity, that the market undersupplies diversity, and that optimal competition policy requires accounting for the two-sidedness of the news market.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18234.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18234

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References

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Cited by:
  1. Sobbrio, Francesco, 2014. "Citizen-editors' endogenous information acquisition and news accuracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 43-53.
  2. Matthew Gentzkow & Nathan Petek & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2012. "Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the US Press, 1869-1928," NBER Working Papers 18164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Rudiger, Jesper, 2013. "Cross-Checking the Media," MPRA Paper 51786, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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