Edited By Esther Thorson, Mitchell S. McKinney and Dhavan Shah
Chapter Twenty: Is Dangerous News Use Dangerous? The Impact of Safe and Dangerous News Use on Political Socialization
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Is Dangerous News Use Dangerous?
The Impact of Safe and Dangerous News Use on Political Socialization
EDSON TANDOC, ESTHER THORSON, MI JAHNG, EUNJIN KIM, AND MARGARET DUFFY
There is no disagreement that news use, in general, exerts some influence on political participation. For instance, newspapers were found to be more influential than television news in terms of increasing participation (McLeod & McDonald, 1985; Scheufele, Nisbet, Brossard, & Nisbet, 2004). Also, hard news is more influential than soft news (McLeod et al., 1996). But news is far from homogeneous.
The growth of news and opinion media sources in particular, from cable channels to Internet sources, has brought greater concern that Americans are becoming increasingly polarized politically (Stroud, 2008, 2010; Tsfati & Cappella, 2005). Some news organizations now make it entirely possible for one to create a media diet of almost purely liberal or purely conservative news, depending on one’s ideological partisanship. This is what we call safe news use. This construction of a protective silo of news and opinion that most likely generates a fairly consistent political viewpoint is also expected to affect young people as they develop their perspectives of the world. While the literature is saturated with how news use per se affects political socialization, existing research has not examined the possible impact of safe news use. Consumers of news, however, may also be exposed to news that is counter to one’s...
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