One of the most important distinctions in academia is receipt of the Clark Medal, which is awarded to the American economist under the age of 40 who has made the most significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge. This year that award went to Matthew Gentzkow, an economics professor at the University of Chicagoís Booth School of Business. His focus? The media.
In a recent interview, Mr. Gentzkow explained how economics drives mediaís tendency to focus on a more centrist viewpoint, something contrary to the common assumption that with more choices available consumers would tend to focus on media outlets that catered to their point of view.
He has found that there is still a small core media group that provides the bulk of the news, and that they want to appeal to the greatest number of people possible, hence a more nuanced basis for reporting.
Gentzkow adds that the Internet hasnít changed news as much as we might think. He says that many of the underlying economics in todayís media is the same as it was in the 19th century, or more recently, in the days when newspapers and television ruled the media landscape.
Gentzkow harnesses the vast amounts of data now available thanks to the Internet to examine the drivers behind ideological biases in media and how technology is changing the media landscape. He has stated that he enjoys studying the economics of media because of how it interacts with political and social behaviors.
Ultimately, this economistís research shows that people want to know whatís going on in the world, and they want access to this information from sources that they trust.