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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 which 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2014. "Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3073-3114, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:10:p:3073-3114
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.10.3073
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • K21 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Antitrust Law
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • N42 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N72 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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