All the News That's Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information Into News

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Princeton University Press, 2004 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 342 pages

That market forces drive the news is not news. Whether a story appears in print, on television, or on the Internet depends on who is interested, its value to advertisers, the costs of assembling the details, and competitors' products. But in All the News That's Fit to Sell, economist James Hamilton shows just how this happens. Furthermore, many complaints about journalism--media bias, soft news, and pundits as celebrities--arise from the impact of this economic logic on news judgments.

This is the first book to develop an economic theory of news, analyze evidence across a wide range of media markets on how incentives affect news content, and offer policy conclusions. Media bias, for instance, was long a staple of the news. Hamilton's analysis of newspapers from 1870 to 1900 reveals how nonpartisan reporting became the norm. A hundred years later, some partisan elements reemerged as, for example, evening news broadcasts tried to retain young female viewers with stories aimed at their (Democratic) political interests. Examination of story selection on the network evening news programs from 1969 to 1998 shows how cable competition, deregulation, and ownership changes encouraged a shift from hard news about politics toward more soft news about entertainers.

Hamilton concludes by calling for lower costs of access to government information, a greater role for nonprofits in funding journalism, the development of norms that stress hard news reporting, and the defining of digital and Internet property rights to encourage the flow of news. Ultimately, this book shows that by more fully understanding the economics behind the news, we will be better positioned to ensure that the news serves the public good.


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All the news that's fit to sell: how the market transforms information into news

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In his previous book, Channeling Violence, Hamilton (public policy, Duke Univ.) showed that the market dictates the amount of violence appearing on television. His new book discusses how economics ... Read full review


Economic Theories of Mews
A Market for Press Independence The Evolution of Nonpartisan Newspapers in the Nineteenth Century
News Audiences How Strong Are the Publics Interests in the Public Interest?
Information Programs on Network Television
What Is News on Local Television Stations and in Local Newspapers
The Changing Nature of the Network Evening News Programs
News on the Net
Journalists as Goods
Content Consequences and Policy Choices

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About the author (2004)

James T. Hamilton is Charles S. Sydnor Professor of Public Policy, Economics, and Political Science at Duke University. He has written or coauthored six books, including Regulation through Revelation and Channeling Violence (Princeton), which won the Shorenstein Center's Goldsmith Book Prize. He is also a recipient of the David N. Kershaw award for distinguished public policy research.

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