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Unformatted text preview: Sensationalism in the Media 12th February 2010 Tanja Greiner 1 Preliminary Version Abstract Media coverage does not only reflect what is happening in the world. It is mainly concerned with satisfying the needs of the consumers, who often prefer sensationalism over objective information. A fall in the (psychological) distance costs to sensational media coverage leads to more product differentiation and lowers prices of both media outlets. It can be shown that due to the introduction of commercial television, the amount of sensationalism in the news coverage of public television increases although newspaper coverage becomes less biased. Due to the distribution of market shares, more individuals consume significantly biased news. JEL Classification: D72, L13, L82 Keywords: mass media, media bias, product differentiation, duopoly 1 Seminar for Economic Policy, Department of Economics, University of Munich, Akademiestr. 1/II, D-80799 Munich. Phone: +49 89 2180-2249, fax: +49 89 2180-6296, email: firstname.lastname@example.org- muenchen.de 1 1 Introduction Media use has increased substantially in the past decades. Although the total amount of time individuals devote to media use has increased, traditional media have to compete harder for the attention of the consumers. In the past years, the media market faced sig- nificant structural changes triggered by the introduction of commercial television. Being previously constrained to informative news coverage, commercial television gave rise to new tabloid formats, that provided sensationalism and entertainment instead of pure in- formation. This paper intends to analyze how exisiting media like newspapers and public television adapt to the situation of new tabloid media entering the market, and whether the introduction of new formats has increased or decreased the amount of sensationalism in media coverage in either of the two media types. Up to now there exists a variety of empirical studies in the field of media studies and sociology that show that due to the introduction of commercial television, sensationalism in news coverage increased such that news coverage became less objective and negatively biased. Brosius (1998) showed that the greater the variety of accessible media, the lower the interest in neutral coverage. As the introduction of commercial television enlarged the set of varieties, the demand for quality media decreased. Krueger and Zapf-Schramm (2001) analyzed the reaction of traditional media on the introduction of commercial tele- vision and found that news are presented as “infotainment” in order to compete with new entertainment formats. In order to compete with entertainment formats, news have to be simple and unambiguous, as shown by Berg and Ridder (2002). In order to analyze this empirically well-documented fact, this paper provides a theoretical framework by adding some extra elements of realism to a standard spatial competition model and takes a more detailed look at the reaction of different media types.detailed look at the reaction of different media types....
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