Keywords: Local Press, Italy's Economic Geography, Economics of Newspaper Industry.
This paper addresses three basic issues in the economics of the newspaper industry. The first issue is the meaning of the distinction between local and non-local newspapers. The notion of revealed local competitiveness is defined and a method for empirically assessing it is applied to Italian departments in 1999 and 2003. The second issue regards the determinants of the size of the local press in a given area (under the definition of local competitiveness mentioned above). Since the choice on the part of a publisher to issue a local newspaper, rather than a non-local one, is after all a choice of specialization, it is reasonable to expect market size to be the main factor influencing the relative weight of local press in a given area. The paper builds on this basic intuition and qualifies it by considering: a) different measures of market size; b) factors possibly reinforcing or compensating for the influence of market size; c) deeper determinants of market size itself (demographic and education-related variables). The empirical discussion is based on the above mentioned sample of Italian departments. Finally, the paper provides a description of the Italian newspaper system from the local vs. non-local perspective which partly reinterprets the usual distinction between local and national newspapers, according to the revealed local competitiveness approach.