Special Interests and the Media: Theory and an Application to Climate Change

Jesse M. Shapiro

NBER Working Paper No. 19807
Issued in January 2014
NBER Program(s):   EEE   PE   POL

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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An data appendix is available at

This paper was revised on July 10, 2014

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19807

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