Special Interests and the Media: Theory and an Application to Climate Change

48 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2014 Last revised: 4 Apr 2015

See all articles by Jesse M. Shapiro

Jesse M. Shapiro

Brown University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2014


A journalist reports to a voter on an unknown, policy-relevant state. Competing special interests can make claims that contradict the facts but seem credible to the voter. A reputational incentive to avoid taking sides leads the journalist to report special interests’ claims to the voter. In equilibrium, the voter can remain uninformed even when the journalist is perfectly informed. Communication is improved if the journalist discloses her partisan leanings. The model provides an account of persistent public ignorance on climate change that is consistent with narrative and quantitative evidence.

Suggested Citation

Shapiro, Jesse M., Special Interests and the Media: Theory and an Application to Climate Change (January 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w19807. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2380439

Jesse M. Shapiro (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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