Information Gatekeeping and Media Bias


We develop a model to study the political economy implications of information gatekeeping, i.e., a policy of granting access only to friendly media outlets and denying access to critical ones. While an incumbent prefers positive bias, granting access improves her re-election probability only if coverage is sufficiently credible in the eyes of the public. Information gatekeeping can induce a quid pro quo relationship: media provides coverage with positive bias in exchange of future access, thereby affecting electoral outcomes in favor of incompetent incumbents. The degree of access media enjoy increases with competence of incumbents over those issues under public focus.