News, Political Knowledge and Participation: The Differential Effects of News Media Exposure on Political Knowledge and Participation
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This cross-national study investigates the relationship between media and political knowledge and participation. Drawing on panel surveys and news media content analyses the study links exposure and attention to specific media contents to changes in political knowledge and participation. While the literature on this issue is divided, this study shows that the positive effects of news media exposure outweigh the negative effects and that the effects are conditional upon actual content. Exposure to news outlets with high levels of political content (such as public television news and broadsheet newspapers) contributes the most to knowledge gains and increases the propensity to turn out to vote. Exposure to news outlets with less political content has either no effects or slightly positive effects, depending on the type of content. In other words, the effects of news media use on knowledge and participation are rather ‘virtuous’ than ‘vicious’. The results are discussed in the light of research on media effects and political participation.
Keywordspolitical knowledge political participation turnout news media effects
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