Media Competition and News Diets
64 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2020 Last revised: 15 Sep 2021
Date Written: February 2020
Technological innovations in content delivery, such as the advent of broadcast television or of the Internet, threaten local newspapers’ ability to bundle their original local content with third-party content such as wire national news. We examine how the entry of television – with its initial focus on national news – affected local newspapers as well as consumer news diets in the United States. We develop a model of local media and show that entry of national television news could reduce the provision of local news. We construct a novel dataset of U.S. newspapers’ economic performance and content choices from 1944 to 1964 and exploit quasi-random variation in the rollout of television to show that this new technology was a negative shock in both the readership and advertising markets for newspapers. Newspapers responded by providing less content, particularly local news. We tie this change towards increasingly nationalized news diets to a decrease in split-ticket voting across Congressional and Presidential elections.
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