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Influential News and Policy-making

Vaccari, Federico (2021): Influential News and Policy-making.

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It is believed that interventions that change the media's costs of misreporting can increase the information provided by media outlets. This paper analyzes the validity of this claim and the welfare implications of those types of interventions that affect misreporting costs. I study a model of communication between an uninformed voter and a media outlet that knows the quality of two competing candidates. The alternatives available to the voter are endogenously championed by the two candidates. I show that higher costs may lead to more misreporting and persuasion, whereas low costs result in full revelation; interventions that increase misreporting costs never harm the voter, but those that do so slightly may be wasteful of public resources. I conclude that intuitions derived from the interaction between the media and voters, without incorporating the candidates' strategic responses to the media environment, do not capture properly the effects of these types of interventions.

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