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The Production of Information in an Online World

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  • Julia Cagé
  • Nicolas Hervé
  • Marie-Luce Viaud

Abstract

News production requires investment, and competitors’ ability to appropriate a story may reduce a media’s incentives to provide original content. Yet, there is little legal protection of intellectual property rights in online news production, which raises the issue of the extent of copying online and the incentives to provide original content. In this article, we build a unique dataset combining all the online content produced by French news media during the year 2013 with new micro audience data. We develop a topic detection algorithm that identifies each news event, trace the timeline of each story, and study news propagation. We provide new evidence on online news production. First, we document high reactivity of online media: one quarter of the news stories are reproduced online in under 4 min. We show that this is accompanied by substantial copying, both at the extensive and at the intensive margins, which may constitute a severe threat to the commercial viability of the news media. Next, we estimate the returns to originality in online news production. Using article-level variations and media-level daily audience combined with article-level social media statistics, we find that original content producers tend to receive more viewers, thereby mitigating the newsgathering incentive problem raised by copying.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Cagé & Nicolas Hervé & Marie-Luce Viaud, 2020. "The Production of Information in an Online World," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(5), pages 2126-2164.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:restud:v:87:y:2020:i:5:p:2126-2164.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/restud/rdz061
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    Cited by:

    1. Bertin Martens & Luis Aguiar & Estrella Gomez Herrera & Frank Muller, 2018. "The digital transformation of news media and the rise of disinformation and fake news," JRC Working Papers on Digital Economy 2018-02, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    2. Charles Angelucci & Julia Cagé & Michael Sinkinson, 2020. "Media Competition and News Diets," NBER Working Papers 26782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Joan Calzada & Ricard Gil, 2020. "What Do News Aggregators Do? Evidence from Google News in Spain and Germany," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(1), pages 134-167, January.
    4. Sílvia Majó-Vázquez & Ana S. Cardenal & Oleguer Segarra & Pol Colomer de Simón, 2020. "Media Roles in the Online News Domain: Authorities and Emergent Audience Brokers," Media and Communication, Cogitatio Press, vol. 8(2), pages 98-111.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Internet; Information spreading; Copyright; Social media; Reputation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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