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Media versus Special Interests

  • Dyck, Alexander
  • Moss, David
  • Zingales, Luigi

We argue that profit-maximizing media help overcome the problem of "rational ignorance" highlighted by Downs (1957) and in so doing make elected representatives more sensitive to the interests of general voters. By collecting news and combining it with entertainment, media are able to inform passive voters on politically relevant issues. To show the impact this information has on legislative outcomes, we document the effect "muckraking" magazines had on the voting patterns of U.S. representatives and senators in the early part of the 20th century. We also show under what conditions profit-maximizing media will cater to general (less affluent) voters in their coverage, providing a counterbalance to special interests.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6994.

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Date of creation: Oct 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6994
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  1. Djankov, Simeon & et al, 2003. "Who Owns the Media?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 341-81, October.
  2. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234.
  3. Besley, Timothy J. & Burgess, Robin, 2001. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," CEPR Discussion Papers 2721, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Alexander Dyck & Natalya Volchkova & Luigi Zingales, 2008. "The Corporate Governance Role of the Media: Evidence from Russia," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(3), pages 1093-1135, 06.
  5. Marc T. Law & Gary D. Libecap, 2004. "The Determinants of Progressive Era Reform: The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906," NBER Working Papers 10984, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse Shapiro, 2005. "Media Bias and Reputation," NBER Working Papers 11664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2005. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 07, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  8. David P. Baron, 2005. "Competing for the Public Through the News Media," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(2), pages 339-376, 06.
  9. Jonathan Reuter & Eric Zitzewitz, 2005. "Do Ads Influence Editors? Advertising and Bias in the Financial Media," Finance 0501003, EconWPA.
  10. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  11. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  12. Lisa M. George & Joel Waldfogel, 2006. "The New York Times and the Market for Local Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 435-447, March.
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