The Internet’s Impact on Journalistic Quality

  • Christian M. WellbrockEmail author
Part of the Media Business and Innovation book series (MEDIA)


This paper investigates how far the print and online markets are characterized by market failure in order to examine whether sufficient journalistic quality will be produced in the online market. Although the often-claimed non-excludability from consumption in online and broadcasting markets does not exist from a market failure perspective, it is found that the online market still provides worse conditions than print markets regarding the provision of journalistic quality. This is why an increasing shift of recipients towards the Internet and away from television and newspapers is threatening the fulfillment of mass media’s functions in a democratic society. From a regulatory perspective, combining economic and normative arguments suggests that public service broadcasters should be allowed to expand their activities in the online market.


Newspapers Online Journalistic quality Market failure 


  1. Akerlof, G. A. (1970). The market for ‘Lemons’: Quality uncertainty and the market mechanism. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 84, 488–500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, S. P., & Gabszewicz, J. J. (2006). The media and advertising: A tale of two-sided markets. In V. A. Ginsburgh & D. Throsby (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of art and culture (Vol. 1, pp. 567–614). North Holland, Amsterdam: Elsevier.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armstrong, M. (2006). Competition in two-sided markets. RAND Journal of Economics, 37, 668–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arrow, K. J. (1962). Economic welfare and the allocation of resources for invention. In R. R. Nelson (Ed.), The rate and direction of inventive activity: Economic and social factors (pp. 609–625). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Baumol, W. J., Panzar, J. C., & Willig, R. D. (1982). Contestable markets and the theory of industry structure. Boston: Thomson Learning.Google Scholar
  6. BDZV. (2005). Schaubilder 2005: Zur wirtschaftlichen Lage der deutschen Zeitungen.
  7. BDZV. (2010). Schaubilder 2010: Zur wirtschaftlichen Lage der deutschen Zeitungen.
  8. Becker, G. S., & Stigler, G. J. (1977). De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum. American Economic Review, 67, 76–90.Google Scholar
  9. Beebe, J. (1977). Institutional structure and program choice in television markets. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 91, 15–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Berry, S. T., & Waldfogel, J. (1999). Public radio in the United States: Does it correct market failure or cannibalize commercial stations? Journal of Public Economics, 71, 189–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Blair, R. D., & Romano, R. E. (1993). Pricing decisions of the newspaper monopolist. Southern Economic Journal, 59, 721–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Blumler, J. G., & Gurevitch, M. (1990). Political communication systems and democratic values. In J. Lichtenberg (Ed.), Democracy and the mass media (pp. 269–287). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. BVerfG. (2007). 1 BvR 2270/05, 2007, 09/11/2007, passages 1-213.
  14. Collins, R. (2008). Hierarchy to homeostasis? Hierarchy, markets and networks in UK media and communications governance. Media, Culture & Society, 30, 295–317.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crampes, C., Haritchabalet, C., & Jullien, B. (2009). Advertising, competition and entry in media industries. The Journal of Industrial Economics, 57, 7–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Doyle, G. (2002). Understanding media economics. Los Angeles: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Garvin, D. A. (1984, Fall). What does ‘product quality’ really mean? MIT Sloan Management Review, 26(1), 25–45.Google Scholar
  18. Habermas, J. (2007). Keine Demokratie kann sich das leisten. Süddeutsche Zeitung Online.
  19. Hollifield, C. A. (2006). News media performance in hypercompetitive markets: An extended model of effects. International Journal on Media Management, 8, 60–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Leroch, M., & Wellbrock, C. (2011). Saving newspaper with public grants - the effects of press subsidies on the provision of journalistic quality. Information Economics and Policy, 23(3–4), 281–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Liebowitz, S. J., & Margolis, S. E. (1995). Are network externalities a new source of market failure? Research in Law and Economics, 17, 1–22.Google Scholar
  22. Logan, B., & Sutter, D. (2004). Newspaper quality, Pulitzer prizes, and newspaper circulation. American Economic Journal, 32, 100–112.Google Scholar
  23. Ludwig, J. (2000). The essential economic problem of the media: Working between market failure and cross-financing. Journal of Media Economics, 13, 187–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mantrala, M. K., Naik, P. A., Sridhar, S., & Thorson, E. (2007). Uphill or downhill? Locating the firm on a profit function. Journal of Marketing, 71, 26–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mas-Colell, A., Whinston, M. D., & Green, J. R. (1995). Microeconomic theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. McQuail, D. (1992). Media performance. London: Mass communication and the public interest.Google Scholar
  27. NAA. (2010). Trends & numbers.
  28. NAA. (2011). Annual newspaper ad expenditure. Accessed January 15, 2012, from
  29. Owen, B., & Wildman, S. (1992). Video economics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Perez-Pena, R. (2007). Times to stop charging for parts of its web site. The New York Times online.
  31. Sjurts, I. (2004). Der Markt wird’s schon richten!? Medienprodukte, Medienunternehmen und die Effizienz des Marktprozesses. In K.-D. Altmeppen & M. Karmasin (Eds.), Medien und Ökonomie, vol. 2: Problemfelder der Medienökonomie (pp. 159–181). Opladen: VS Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Spence, M., & Owen, B. (1977). Television programming, monopolistic competition, and welfare. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 91, 103–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. United States Agency for International Development (USAID). (1999). The role of media in democracy: A strategic approach. Washington, DC: Centre for Democracy and Governance.Google Scholar
  34. Westerstahl, J. (1983). Objective news reporting. Communication Research, 10, 403–424.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität HamburgHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations