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Demand for Slant: How Abstention Shapes Voters’ Choice of News Media

  • Santiago Oliveros
  • Felix Vardy


Political commentators warn that the fragmentation of the modern media landscape induces voters to withdraw into “information cocoons” and segregate along ideological lines. We show that the option to abstain breaks ideological segregation and generates “cross-over” in news consumption: voters with considerable leanings toward a candidate demand information that is less biased toward that candidate than voters who are more centrist. This non-monotonicity in the demand for slant makes voters’ ideologies non-recoverable from their choice of news media and generates disproportionate demand for media outlets that are centrist or only moderately biased. It also implies that polarization of the electorate may lead to ideological moderation in news consumption. Thus, our results cast doubt on the oft-prophesied, imminent demise of mainstream media and may help to explain recent empirical findings showing less ideological segregation in news consumption than predicted by extant theories.

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Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 734.

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Date of creation: 19 Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:734
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