Experiments in Voter Funded Media
11 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2012
Date Written: June 23, 2012
This paper is a contribution to the worldwide media reform movement, which is seeking ways to reverse the decline of public interest journalism, especially the in-depth coverage of political issues that is needed for healthy democracies. Several prominent thinkers are advocating similar reforms, in which voters would allocate some government funds among competing media organizations. I compare these reform designs, and recommend an experimental approach to help us improve our designs. The first such experiments have taken place for the past six years in the University of British Columbia's student union. With media funding of only $8,000 per year, we succeeded in encouraging creation of new media and improvement of existing media, providing insightful coverage of student elections and government. I suggest further experiments in student unions and municipal governments, and speculate on how voter funded media systems may evolve, as they grow to national scale and extend to covering corporations. These systems may eventually broaden to become competitive markets for other public goods besides journalism.
Keywords: economics of journalism, democracy, media reform, political reform, free-rider problem, student union, municipal politics
JEL Classification: D72, H41, H72, L33, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation