Special Interests and the Media: Theory and an Application to Climate Change
I present a model in which competing special interests seek policy influence through the news media. In the model a journalist reports on expert opinion to a voter. Two competing interested parties can invest to acquire credentialed advocates to represent their positions in the press. Because advocates are easier to obtain when expert opinion is divided, the activities of special interests can reveal useful information to the voter. However, competition among special interests can also reduce the amount of information communicated to the voter, especially on issues with large economic stakes and a high likelihood of a scientific consensus. The model provides an account of persistent voter ignorance on climate change and other high-stakes scientific topics.
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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w19807
This paper was revised on July 10, 2014
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19807
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