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A Citizen-Editors Model of News Media

Sobbrio, Francesco (2011): A Citizen-Editors Model of News Media.

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Abstract

This paper provides a model of the market for news where profit-maximizing media outlets choose their editors from a population of rational citizens. The analysis identifies a key novel mechanism of media bias: the bias in a media outlet's news reports may be the result of the slanted endogenous information acquisition strategy of its editor. Accordingly, the results show that citizens find it optimal to acquire information from a media outlet whose editor has similar ideological preferences. At the same time, there is always an upper bound on the possible "extremism" of an editor above which the citizens' demand for news is strictly decreasing. Depending on the distribution of citizens' ideological preferences, a media outlet may choose an ideological editor even in a monopolistic market. Moreover, ideological editors are more likely to be present in the market for news: i) the higher the number of media outlets competing in the market for news; ii) the lower the opportunity cost that citizens have to incur to acquire information.

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