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.
KeywordsMedia bias Media competition Internet media Selective exposure Blogs Elections
JEL ClassificationD72 D81 D83 L82
We thank Nathan Larson, Alessandro Lizzeri, Matthew Nagler, Ruben Enikolopov and participants at the 2010 Econometric Society World Congress, 2010 Western Economic Association Conference and numerous seminars for helpful comments. Jimmy Chan acknowledges the support of Shanghai Dongfang Xuezhe Program, 211 Project for the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and the Shanghai Leading Academic Discipline Program, Program No. B801.
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