Ruben Durante, 06 August 2021

Remember when your local newspaper was filled with classified advertising? Once, three-line ads for lonely hearts and used cars for sale were a guaranteed source of revenue. Then Craigslist replaced classifieds in the US, and the result, Ruben Durante tells Tim Phillips, has been less political reporting and more partisan polarisation.

You can download and read the underlying research, Djourelova, M, R Durante and G Martin (2021), “The impact of online competition on local newspapers: Evidence from the introduction of Craigslist”, CEPR Discussion Paper 16130 , here

Milena Djourelova, Ruben Durante, Gregory J. Martin, 25 July 2021

Newspapers advertising revenues have declined steadily over the past decades due to competition from online platforms. But what are the implications of this trend for the organisation and content of newspapers and for information local readers are exposed to? To shed light on these questions this column looks at the staggered introduction of Craigslist – the world’s largest platform for classified ads – in the US. It finds that the entry of Craigslist in a market led to considerable staff cuts by local newspapers, a decline in news coverage of politics, and a drop in readership. These changes also had electoral consequences, favouring partisan voting and ideologically extreme candidates.

Charles Angelucci, Julia Cagé, Michael Sinkinson, 21 May 2021

Local journalism is disappearing in the US, with a quarter of all newspapers shut down in the past 15 years. Using the case of television expansion in the mid-20th century US, this column investigates how a more competitive national news market affects local news provision and, in turn, voting behaviour. After the entry of television, circulation for local newspapers and the total number of original local news stories published decreased. Because of television’s more national focus, this points to a strong shift towards more national news diets. Crowding out of local information led to less split-ticket voting, implying the nationalisation of local politics.

Julia Cagé, 23 December 2017

Conventional wisdom holds that more media competition makes citizens more informed, and that it improves the functioning of democracies. This column tests this claim using data on local newspaper circulation in France. It finds that increased media competition leads to business stealing and to a decrease in the coverage of public affairs news by local newspapers. It also has a negative impact on local election turnout. While competition is key to the quality of the media environment, the results highlight that more media competition is not necessarily socially efficient.

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