Ulric B. and Evelyn L. Bray Social Sciences Seminar
Abstract: This paper's goal is to compare equilibrium news coverage during the 2012 US Presidential campaign to a benchmark of socially optimal news coverage. We specify a model where viewer-voters have utility for news stories driven by three considerations: (1) learning information that is relevant for the Presidential election, (2) consuming political news that matches their own ideology, and (3) consuming news for its entertainment or leisure value. News channels choose topic coverage to maximize viewership. We estimate the model using high frequency data on viewership by individuals and topic coverage by news channels, as well as lower frequency polling data.