Competition and Cognition in the Market for Online News

Forthcoming, Journal of Management Information Systems

72 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2023 Last revised: 2 Jan 2024

See all articles by Abhishek Ray

Abhishek Ray

George Mason University - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management

Hossein Ghasemkhani

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management

César Martinelli

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 2, 2023

Abstract

Does it pay to appear unbiased in an attention-based economy where bias sells? We study this question in light of increased consumer partisan polarization and biases alongside greater technology usage and partisanship in journalism. Using a game-theoretic framework that captures the essential properties of the online news market, we show that polarization with biases may constrain neutral and partisan news websites' engagement-enhancing strategies differently; online news providers can strategically exploit consumer perceptions to maximize engagement-driven revenues. Our analysis suggests that neutral news outlets depend on polarization imbalance and perceptions of neutrality. Moreover, increased search costs and consumer bias toward partisan outlets can lessen the echo-chamber effect in online news consumption. Our work advances discussions on online news neutrality, providing fresh insights into the `marketplace of ideas' view and source versus content neutrality in the face of increasing affective polarization.

Keywords: online news, polarization, bias, engagement, cognition

JEL Classification: D43, D83

Suggested Citation

Ray, Abhishek and Ghasemkhani, Hossein and Martinelli, César, Competition and Cognition in the Market for Online News (March 2, 2023). Forthcoming, Journal of Management Information Systems, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4376209 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4376209

Abhishek Ray (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Information Systems and Operations Management ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

Hossein Ghasemkhani

Purdue University - Krannert School of Management ( email )

1310 Krannert Building
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1310
United States

César Martinelli

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

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