Rational Choice Theory (RCT) and Behavioral Economics in Journalism and Communication Science
Professor: James Hamilton
Tipo di corso: Corso per dottorandi
Valore in crediti ECTS: 1.5
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While Economic Theory has been applied to fields such diverse as religion, arts, law and crime, journalism and mass communication have until recently remained blind spots of economic analysis. Media economists may have described media markets, but few economists so far have studied self-interested journalists and other actors in information-attention-markets. In particular, it is frequently still assumed that journalists serve the public, strive for objectivity in their news products, and seek to act as a ‘fourth estate’ in democracy.
The seminar will instead be based on the assumption that media content is provided for markets and basically influenced by rational journalists’, other communication professionals’, and media companies’ self interests. In the seminar, an Economic Theory of Journalism & Mass Communication will be outlined, referring to the few scholars of economics and of mass communication who have – explicitly or implicitly - used economic theory as an analytical tool to analyze journalism and mass communication. But also the limits of this approach will be discussed, picking up results from Behavioral Economics and discussing them in the context of journalism.
Economic concepts like principal-agent theory, free-riding, external effects, the tragedy of the commons, and the tyranny of small decisions shall be applied in order to provide more in-depth explanations for often-criticized developments in journalism and mass communication - such as the rising influence of PR and ‘spin doctors’ on journalism, ‘pack reporting’, and ‘horse-race journalism’.
Most recent developments of journalism and newspaper publishing in the US will serve as a case study in the seminar. Participants are also invited to try out Rational Choice Theory and Behavioral Economics in their own field of research.