- Challenging selective exposure: do people expose themselves only to online content that fits their interests and preferences?
- 65th World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR) Annual Conference
- Book/source title
- WAPOR Hong Kong 2012: paper presentation
- Lincoln, NE/Hong Kong: World Association for Public Opinion Research/Public Opinion Programme, The University of Hong Kong
- Document type
- Conference contribution
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)
Today’s online news environment has made it easy to select news outlets that cover the topics one is personally interested in and contain the political viewpoints one shares. This might lead to a fragmentation of the audience long these two lines. Previous research often has been limited to either examining the diversity of the media offer or of the audience’s media choices. This study of online news use in Austria does both to systematically assess whether such an effect exists. It first investigates actual content differences between online news outlets based on an automated content analysis (N=3,607) of content overlap and a manual content analysis (N=2,069) of topics and political bias of the coverage. In a second step, we use survey data (N=2,829) to investigate in how far online news users select outlets with topics and viewpoints that match their interests and political preferences. Results indicate that the content of different news outlets differs in terms of the topics covered, but not in terms of a general political leaning. While this precondition for audience fragmentation thus is met to some extent, we found only little evidence that people use these differences to match them with their personal interests.
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