Patrick Kennedy, Andrea Prat, 25 November 2017

Real news is an antidote to fake news, but how much political information do we access and where does it come from? Based on an analysis of news consumption in 18 countries, this column shows that low-income, low-education voters use fewer information sources. This pattern is reflected at the aggregate level, with countries with high income inequality also demonstrating high information inequality. News sources that cater to information-poor audiences have greater ‘media power’, and there is no evidence that public service broadcasting reduces information inequality.

Oscar Barrera, Sergei Guriev, Emeric Henry, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 02 November 2017

‘Fake news’ has become a key ingredient of Western political discourse. This column uses an experiment conducted during the 2017 French presidential election campaign to show that ‘alternative facts’ are highly persuasive. Voters exposed to a narrative based on misleading numbers shifted towards the populist’s agenda, and fact checking did nothing to undo these effects. In fact, exposing voters only to official facts on a highly sensitive subject, such as the European refugee crisis, can backfire by increasing support for the extreme right.

Julia Cagé, Nicolas Hervé, Marie-Luce Viaud, 19 June 2017

The rise of news consumption through social media and the ‘fake news’ phenomenon has raised doubt over the value of original news production. This column uses a comprehensive dataset of French news content produced in 2013 to assess the commercial returns to original news production. It finds that media outlets with a larger fraction of original content do tend to receive greater audiences.

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