, Volume 156, Issue 3-4, pp 467-490
Date: 28 Feb 2012

Media proliferation and partisan selective exposure

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The number of Internet news media outlets has skyrocketed in recent years. We analyze the effects of media proliferation on electoral outcomes assuming voters may choose news that is too partisan, from an informational perspective, i.e., engage in partisan selective exposure. We find that if voters who prefer highly partisan news—either because they are truly ideologically extreme, or due to a tendency towards excessive selective exposure—are politically “important,” then proliferation is socially beneficial, as it makes these voters more likely to obtain informative news. Otherwise, proliferation still protects against very poor electoral outcomes that can occur when the number of outlets is small and the only media options are highly partisan. Our model’s overall implication is thus that, surprisingly, proliferation is socially beneficial regardless of the degree of selective exposure.