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date: 10 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Communication technology has increased availability of public affairs information, but many citizens ignore it. How do greater availability and less widespread consumption of news affect political accountability? Not all citizens have to follow the news for media coverage to improve accountability. Under some conditions, higher levels of news exposure and political knowledge in a relatively small subset of the population could strengthen accountability, even when other citizens follow the news less than in the past. For this to work, news junkies must effectively represent the interests of those who are tuning out. If news junkies have different interests than the rest of the population, their efforts to monitor officials and raise concerns may lead to less representative government and lower accountability. As a result of more media choice, the task of holding elected officials accountable rests increasingly on a small segment of the population.

Keywords: accountability, principal-agent model, latent preferences, media environment, political knowledge, news junkies, watchdog(s), news consumption, oversight monitor, monitoring, monitorial

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