Article | Journal of Law & Economics

Media versus Special Interests

by Alexander Dyck, David Moss and Luigi Zingales


We argue that profit-maximizing media help to overcome the rational ignorance problem highlighted by Anthony Downs. By collecting news and combining it with entertainment, media are able to inform passive voters about regulation and other public policy issues, acting as a (partial) counterbalance to small but well-organized groups. To show the impact this information has on regulation, we document the effect muckraking magazines had on the voting patterns of U.S. representatives and senators on regulatory issues in the early part of the twentieth century. We also discuss the conditions under which media can serve to counterbalance special interests.

Keywords: Media; Profit; Government and Politics;


Dyck, Alexander, David Moss, and Luigi Zingales. "Media versus Special Interests." Journal of Law & Economics 56, no. 3 (August 2013): 521–553.