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The Effect of the Internet on Newspaper Readability

Author

Listed:
  • Abdallah Salami

    () (NYU Stern School of Business, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012 USA)

  • Robert Seamans

    () (NYU Stern School of Business, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012 USA)

Abstract

How has the Internet affected newspaper content? We build a dataset that matches newspaper readability measures to Internet penetration at the county-year level from 2000 – 2008. We document a positive relationship between Internet penetration and newspaper readability. This result appears remarkably robust. The relationship is evident in non-parametric graphs of the raw data, annual cross-sections and panel data models. Our cross section results rely on an instrumental variables approach that uses lightning strikes to instrument for Internet penetration. Thus, contrary to a commonly held belief that the Internet is “dumbing down” content, we find evidence supporting the opposite hypothesis: newspaper content appears to be getting more sophisticated in response to increased Internet penetration.

Suggested Citation

  • Abdallah Salami & Robert Seamans, 2014. "The Effect of the Internet on Newspaper Readability," Working Papers 14-13, NET Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:1413
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Cag�, Julia & Herv�, Nicolas & Viaud, Marie-Luce, 2017. "The Production of Information in an Online World: Is Copy Right?," CEPR Discussion Papers 12066, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. 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.
    3. Bris, Myriam & Pawlak, Jacek & Polak, John W., 2017. "How is ICT use linked to household transport expenditure? A cross-national macro analysis of the influence of home broadband access," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 231-242.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Internet; newspapers; quality; readability; broadband access;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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