Strategic grouping and search for quality journalism, online versus offline
This paper investigates how supply-side factors influence the search for quality content in online and offline environments. We show that lower fixed costs of online publishing reduce the incentives to bundle content, as compared to offline journalism. In the presence of asymmetric information over journalistic quality, bundling of content by journalists who publish as a group generates positive informational externalities for users. Journalists group assortatively, better journalists having better partners. Then a consumer who discovers one quality journalist, has found several. The online environment, by reducing the pressure to group up, can lower welfare in our baseline model. We establish conditions for this result and investigate a number of countervailing forces.
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