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Media competition, information provision and political participation:Evidence from French local newspapers and elections, 1944–2014

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  • Julia Cage

    (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of increased media competition on the quantity and quality of news provided and, ultimately, on political participation. I build a new county-level panel dataset of local newspaper presence, newspapers' number of journalists, costs and revenues and political turnout in France, from 1944 to 2014. I estimate the effect of newspaper entry by comparing counties that experience entry to similar counties in the same years that do not. Both sets of counties exhibit similar trends prior to entry, but those with entry experience substantial declines in the average number of journalists. An increased number of newspapers is also associated with fewer articles and less hard news provision. Newspaper entry, and the associated decline in information provision, is ultimately found to decrease voter turnout at local elections. Exploiting the long time span covered by my data, I discuss a number of mechanisms that may drive these empirical findings. First, I examine the relationship between increased competition and media capture in the aftermath of WW2, when newspapers were biased and the advertising market was underdeveloped. I then show that in the recent period the effects are stronger in counties with more homogeneous populations, as predicted by a vertical product differentiation framework, whereas there is little impact in counties with more heterogeneous populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Julia Cage, 2019. "Media competition, information provision and political participation:Evidence from French local newspapers and elections, 1944–2014," Post-Print hal-03567022, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-03567022
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2019.104077
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://hal-sciencespo.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03567022
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    Cited by:

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    2. Vincent Pons & Clémence Tricaud, 2018. "Expressive Voting and Its Cost: Evidence From Runoffs With Two or Three Candidates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 86(5), pages 1621-1649, September.
    3. Bekkouche, Yasmine & Cagé, Julia & Dewitte, Edgard, 2022. "The heterogeneous price of a vote: Evidence from multiparty systems, 1993–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 206(C).
    4. Charles Angelucci & Julia Cagé, 2019. "Newspapers in Times of Low Advertising Revenues," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 319-364, August.
    5. Sun, Junze & Schram, Arthur & Sloof, Randolph, 2021. "Elections under biased candidate endorsements — an experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 141-158.
    6. Ekaterina Zhuravskaya & Maria Petrova & Ruben Enikolopov, 2020. "Political Effects of the Internet and Social Media," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 12(1), pages 415-438, August.
    7. Arseniy Samsonov, 2021. "The fragmentation of views in a democracy," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 22(3), pages 215-256, September.
    8. Trombetta, Federico & Rossignoli, Domenico, 2021. "The price of silence: Media competition, capture, and electoral accountability," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).
    9. Ayush Pant & Federico Trombetta, 2022. "The Newsroom Dilemma," DISEIS - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo dis2205, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimento di Economia internazionale, delle istituzioni e dello sviluppo (DISEIS).
    10. Bekkouche, Yasmine & Cagé, Julia & Dewitte, Edgard, 2022. "The heterogeneous price of a vote: Evidence from multiparty systems, 1993–2017," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 206(C).
    11. Choi, Jay Pil & Yang, Sangwoo, 2021. "Investigative journalism and media capture in the digital age," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C).
    12. Andina-Díaz, Ascensión & García-Martínez, José A., 2020. "Reputation and news suppression in the media industry," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 240-271.
    13. Jacopo Perego & Sevgi Yuksel, 2022. "Media Competition and Social Disagreement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 90(1), pages 223-265, January.
    14. Giovanni Andreottola & Antoni-Italo de Moragas, 2020. "Scandals, Media Competition and Political Accountability," CSEF Working Papers 557, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Media Competition; Newspaper Content; Size of the newsroom; Hard News; Soft News; Political Participation; Media Capture; Governance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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