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Articles

Media Choice Proliferation and Shifting Orientations Towards News in the United States and Norway, 1995-2012 – Nordicom Review

Abstract

Around the world, rapid media choice proliferation is empowering audiences and allowing individuals to more precisely tailor personal media use. From a democratic perspective, the relationship between the changing media environment and news use is of particular interest. This paper presents a comparative exploration of citizens’ changing orientations towards local, national and international news in two very different countries, Norway and the United States, between 1995 and 2012. Prior research suggests that more media choice correlates with a decrease in news consumption. Our analysis shows a pattern of increasing specialization in news orientation in both countries. We also find that the strongest Norwegian trend is one of specialization while the strongest trend in the United States is one of disconnection. Altogether, the results illustrate how local conditions shape the effects of global technological developments.

Priming, Rap News and Public Diplomacy: Reporting on an NGO-Led Media Initiative in UgandaInternational Journal of Communication

Abstract

Mediated public diplomacy campaigns are proliferating around the world. Governments are joined by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), terrorists, and others that seek to effect change on the international stage by speaking directly to global populations. As these initiatives spread, they also use new and creative communication tactics. This study contributes to the evolving public diplomacy literature in two key ways. First, it explores the design and effects of an NGO-led intervention that employs a novel message format—rap news—in Uganda. Second, it reports on the integration of priming theory and entertainment-education strategies into this intervention and its evaluation. Experimental results indicate that priming via rap news can be effective—but that the precise results are difficult to control.

Dead Newspapers and Citizens’ Civic EngagementPolitical Communication

Abstract

Using data from the 2008 and 2009 Current Population Survey conducted by the United States Census, this article assesses the year-over-year change in the civic engagement of citizens in America’s largest metropolitan areas. Of special interest are Denver and Seattle, where the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle Post-Intelligencer closed during the intervening year. The data from the CPS indicate that civic engagement in Seattle and Denver dropped significantly from 2008 to 2009 – a decline that is not consistently replicated over the same time period in other major American cities that did not lose a newspaper. The analysis suggests that this decline may plausibly be attributed to the newspaper closures in Seattle and Denver. This short-term negative effect is concerning –and whether it lasts warrants future attention.

Local Political Knowledge and Assessments of Citizen CompetencePublic Opinion Quarterly

Abstract

This article contrasts the national and local political knowledge of a random sample of 993 Philadelphians with the aim of enhancing the scholarly understanding of citizen competence. Empirical study of citizen competence extends back more than 50 years, but the survey data that have been brought to bear upon the topic are almost exclusively focused on national-level politics. Consequently, sweeping conclusions about the competence of the American public rest upon a narrow foundation. The comparisons in this article depict a slew of differences in the distribution of knowledge across national and local politics,  many of which challenge established notions of who is politically knowledgeable. This, in turn, has implications for which members of society are seen as politically competent and how competent the public as a whole is thought to be.

Gender Inequality in Deliberative ParticipationAmerican Political Science Review

Abstract

Can men and women have equal levels of voice and authority in deliberation or does deliberation exacerbate gender inequality?Does increasing women’s descriptive representation in deliberation increase their voice and authority? We answer these questions and move beyond the debate by hypothesizing that the group’s gender composition interacts with its decision rule to exacerbate or erase the inequalities. We test this hypothesis and various alternatives, using experimental data with many groups and links between individuals’ attitudes and speech.We find a substantial gender gap in voice and authority, but as hypothesized, it disappears under unanimous rule and few women, or under majority rule and many women. Deliberative design can avoid inequality by  fitting institutional procedure to the social context of the situation.

Citizens’ Local Political Knowledge and the Role of Media AccessJournalism & Mass Communication Quarterly

Abstract

Locally-based media institutions that have been at the core of citizens’ media environments for generations are facing an onslaught of new competition from new media. The twin goals of this article are to expand our understanding of the distribution of local political knowledge in general and to specifically examine the relevance of media access. The article suggests that media access does bear upon levels of local political knowledge and confirms that citizens who are knowledgeable about local politics do not mirror the profile of those who are knowledgeable about national politics.

News Images, Race and Attribution in the Wake of Hurricane KatrinaJournal of Communication

Abstract

Employing an experimental design and a nationally representative sample (N=504), this study looks at the power of news images and the effect of race on the attribution of responsibility for the consequences of Hurricane Katrina. Sample members, black and white, all read the same news story about the hurricane and its aftermath. They were randomly assigned to read stories that included images of white victims, black victims or no images at all. After reading the story, the participants were asked who they felt was responsible for the humanitarian disaster that followed the storm. Findings indicate a racial divide in the effect of the images: white respondents expressed less of a sense of government responsibility for the tragedy in New Orleans when the news story included images of victims. For black respondents this effect did not take shape. In addition, images did not seem to affect the attribution of responsibility to the residents of New Orleans themselves. These findings are interpreted to support the expectations of framing theory with the images serving as episodic framing mechanisms. At the same time, the counter-force of ethnic identity, in a racially charged setting, is considered as offsetting to these framing effects.

Sex and Race: Are Black Candidates More Likely to be Disadvantaged by Sex Scandals?Political Behavior

Abstract

A growing body of work suggests that exposure to subtle racial cues prompts white voters to penalize black candidates, and that the effects of these cues may influence outcomes indirectly via perceptions of candidate ideology. We test hypotheses related to these ideas using two experiments based on national samples. In one experiment, we manipulated the race of a candidate (Barack Obama vs. John Edwards) accused of sexual impropriety. We found that while both candidates suffered from the accusation, the scandal led respondents to view Obama as more liberal than Edwards, especially among resentful and engaged whites. Second, overall evaluations of Obama declined more sharply than for Edwards. In the other experiment, we manipulated the explicitness of the scandal, and found that implicit cues were more damaging for Obama than explicit ones.

Life After Newspapers: Local Political Information On the WebInformation, Communication & Society

Abstract

Scholars and pundits have widely discussed the decline of print journalism, but there has been very little empirical research focused on examining online alternatives. This article utilizes a unique sample of online local political content related to the 2007 Philadelphia mayoral campaign to address this empirical void. A content analysis of this dataset explores the sources of online local political information (LPI), its qualities, and how much of it is original material. New media sources of LPI may be far from maturity, but this article finds that they do exist and are a viable resource for citizens.

In Google We Trust: Information Integrity in the Digital AgeFirst Monday

Abstract

This paper considers information safety and accuracy in the digital age using Google as an entry point. In doing so, it explores the role media play in shaping the relationship of information, privacy, and trust between Google and the public. This inquiry is undertaken using framing theory to guide a content analysis of the way Google is presented in New York Times articles from a two–year period ending in November, 2005. Analysis of the extensive coverage of Google’s share price and earnings reports leads to the conclusion that trust in Google is fostered in part simply by reports of its fiscal success. To the extent that this is true, meaningful public debate about information policies is inhibited.

The Utility of Community Newspapers in a Mayoral Election – Newspaper Research Journal

Abstract

As major daily newspapers wither across America, other sources of local news – like community newspapers – will become more important to their towns and cities. With this in mind, this article compares coverage of the 2007 Philadelphia mayoral campaign in the city’s major daily and community newspapers. The findings show that community newspapers served as a complement to the major dailies – but also proved to be viable sources of campaign information in their own right.

Abstract: This article contrasts the national and local political knowledge of a random sample of 1000 Philadelphians with the aim of enhancing the scholarly understanding of citizen competence. Empirical study of citizen competence extends back more than 50 years, but the survey data that have been brought to bear upon the topic are almost exclusively focused on national-level politics. Consequently, sweeping conclusions about the competence of the American public have often been grounded in a fairly narrow empirical trench. The comparison in this article depicts a slew of differences in the distribution of knowledge across national and local politics, many of which challenge established notions of who is politically knowledgeable. This, in turn, has implications for which members of society are seen as politically competent and how competent the public as a whole is thought to be.

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