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The Crumbling Hidden Wall: towards an Economic Theory of Journalism


  • Susanne Fengler
  • Stephan Russ-Mohl


While economic theory has been applied to fields such diverse as religion, arts, law and crime in past years, journalism has until recently remained a blind spot of economic analysis. Media economists may have described media markets, but few economists so far have studied self-interested journalists as actors in information-attention markets. Frequently, it is still assumed that journalists serve the public, strive for objectivity in their news products, and seek to act as a 'fourth estate' in democracy. We consider this a 'nirvana approach' to journalism, and we seek to demonstrate instead that media content is severely influenced by rational journalists' and other communication professionals' self interests. Copyright 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Susanne Fengler & Stephan Russ-Mohl, 2008. "The Crumbling Hidden Wall: towards an Economic Theory of Journalism," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(4), pages 520-542, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:61:y:2008:i:4:p:520-542

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Demsetz, Harold, 1969. "Information and Efficiency: Another Viewpoint," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(1), pages 1-22, April.
    3. Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Does Competition Destroy Ethical Behavior?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 414-418, May.
    4. Bruno S. Frey, 2004. "Dealing with Terrorism – Stick or Carrot?," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3435.
    5. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    6. Shleifer, Andrei, 2000. "Inefficient Markets: An Introduction to Behavioral Finance," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198292272, June.
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