Media Competition, Information Provision and Political Participation

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Abstract:

This paper investigates the consequences of an increase in the number of newspapers on the quantity and quality of news provided and, ultimately, changes in political participation. Drawing from the literature on vertical product differentiation to model the production choices of newspapers, I show how an increase in the number of newspapers can decrease both the quantity and quality of information provided. I build a new county-level panel dataset of local newspaper presence and political turnout in France, from 1945 to 2012. I estimate the effect of newspaper entry by comparing counties that experience entry to similar counties in the same years that do not. These counties exhibit similar trends prior to newspaper entry, but newspaper entry then leads to substantial declines in the total number of journalists. More newspapers are also associated with fewer news articles and lower information provision. These effects are concentrated in counties with homogeneous populations, as predicted by the model, with little impact on counties with heterogeneous populations. Newspaper entry, and the associated decline in information provision, is ultimately found to decrease voter turnout.

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Last updated on 01/15/2014