The World Wide Web and the U.S. Political News Market

Published in: American Journal of Political Science, v. 54, no. 2, Apr. 2010, p. 428-439

Posted on RAND.org on April 01, 2010

by Norman H. Nie, Trey Miller, Saar Golde, Daniel Butler, Kenneth Winneg

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We propose a framework for understanding how the Internet has affected the U.S. political news market. The framework is driven by the lower cost of production for online news and consumers' tendency to seek out media that conform to their own beliefs. The framework predicts that consumers of Internet news sources should hold more extreme political views and be interested in more diverse political issues than those who solely consume mainstream television news. We test these predictions using two large datasets with questions about news exposure and political views. Generally speaking, we find that consumers of generally left-of-center (right-of-center) cable news sources who combine their cable news viewing with online sources are more liberal (conservative) than those who do not. We also find that those who use online news content are more likely than those who consume only television news content to be interested in niche political issues.

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