Abstract: User generated content is increasingly substituting content created by professionals. Local news that is generated by citizen journalists could be a promising way of supporting the struggling newspaper industry by reducing costs for professional journalists. We study a network of 122 local Austrian newspapers operating a hybrid model of citizen and professional journalism. We first observe that citizens cover different topics, write shorter articles, and create less engagement. We then exploit a change in the platform’s social recognition system to show that non-monetary incentives drive the production of citizen content, especially for contributors with more experience. We also find that amateur content acts as a substitute for content produced by inexperienced professionals. We finally see that the incentive and substitution effects are more pronounced in smaller regions and for soft news.
Joint with Pedro Ferreira and Ananya Sen.