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Media Versus Special Interests

48 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2008 Last revised: 28 Sep 2010

I. J. Alexander Dyck

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

David A. Moss

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit

Luigi Zingales

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: September 2008

Abstract

We argue that profit-maximizing media help overcome the problem of "rational ignorance" highlighted by Downs (1957) and in so doing make elected representatives more sensitive to the interests of general voters. By collecting news and combining it with entertainment, media are able to inform passive voters on politically relevant issues. To show the impact this information has on legislative outcomes, we document the effect "muckraking" magazines had on the voting patterns of U.S. representatives and senators in the early part of the 20th century. We also show under what conditions profit-maximizing media will cater to general (less affluent) voters in their coverage, providing a counterbalance to special interests.

Suggested Citation

Dyck, I. J. Alexander and Moss, David A. and Zingales, Luigi, Media Versus Special Interests (September 2008). NBER Working Paper No. w14360. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1271392

I.J. Alexander Dyck

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S 3E6
Canada
416-946-0819 (Phone)

David A. Moss

Harvard Business School - Business, Government and the International Economy Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Luigi Zingales (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-3196 (Phone)
773-834-2081 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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