Andrea Prat, 22 August 2014

The potential for political influence is what most people think of when they talk about the power of the media. A new media power index, proposed in this column, aggregates power across all platforms and focuses not on markets but on voters. It measures not actual media influence but rather its potential. Using the index, the author finds that the four most powerful media companies in the US are television-based and the absolute value of the index is high. This indicates that most American voters receive their news from a small number of news sources, which creates the potential for large political influence.

Jordi Blanes i Vidal, Mirko Draca, Christian Fons-Rosen, 28 October 2011

This updated column, first published in October 2010, takes on new resonance following recent scandals in the UK surrounding allegations that lobby groups may have gained undue influence among senior politicians. The column investigates how much former US government officials cash in on their political connections when working as lobbyists. It finds that once the politician for whom they worked leaves office, lobbyists’ revenue falls 20% – suggesting that lobbyists are paid more for who they know than what they know.

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