Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Media coverage - as a public good or bad

Barbara Cochran is hitting hard in her recent article in slate, to defend her position that local tv-stations in fact are meeting consumer demands on political information. Norman Ornstein, who wrote a piece on the subject earlier, is of a different position. Among other things, they differ in their view on how to interpret a Pew survey.
As the Pew researchers said in their report:
"Ratings for local TV news have remained steady in recent years,
suggesting that the public's increased criticism of the media is directed
more at national news organizations than at local news establishments."

Now, this seems to be counter-intuitive. At least from the view of competitiveness. How is it possible that national news (with several different strong actors) can be ranked lower than local tv news (with fewer media outlets and less competition). Maybe Cochran and Ornstein are mixing banans and apples when they are referring to the Pew study. Is it really fair to compare local level tv news with national politics both in terms of coverage and real impact on personal life - especially when the Pew study includes 90 stations in 44 cities (of different sizes)?

The crowding out effect (as well as the logic of collective action i.e. the farther away from the impact (political cost) of a political decision you are - the less will you be inclined to get involved in the real issue) also makes for interesting verifications of such a study. And maybe this is what Cochran and Ornstein really ought to be debating. Well, it's just a thought.

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