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Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers

  • Matthew Gentzkow
  • Jesse M. Shapiro
  • Michael Sinkinson

We study the competitive forces that shaped ideological diversity in the US press in the early twentieth century. We find that households preferred like-minded news and that newspapers used their political orientation to differentiate from competitors. We formulate a model of newspaper demand, entry, and political affiliation choice in which newspapers compete for both readers and advertisers. We use a combination of estimation and calibration to identify the model's parameters from novel data on newspaper circulation, costs, and revenues. The estimated model implies that competition enhances ideological diversity, that the market undersupplies diversity, and that optimal competition policy requires accounting for the two-sidedness of the news market.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18234.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Publication status: published as Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2014. "Competition and Ideological Diversity: Historical Evidence from US Newspapers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(10), pages 3073-3114, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18234
Note: DAE IO POL
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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