A Balanced News Diet, Not Selective Exposure: Evidence from a Direct Measure of Media Exposure
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Department of Political Science

The dramatic increase in media available to citizens as well as the reemergence of a vibrant and visible partisan press has many scholars and pundits concerned that citizens seek out media sources confirming their political predispositions and avoid media sources challenging their political views. To address this concern, I present the first analysis to measure ideological selectivity to partisan media in the context of peoples daily lives. I draw on individual data that track media exposure automatically (users cell phones pick up radio and TV sound which is matched against a database of programming) and measure viewer self-reported partisanship. Results indicate that most people consume predominately non-partisan local TV newscasts, while tuning out news from partisan sources altogether. Of those who do turn to partisan sources, most have a balanced news diet — in that they consume news programming from both ends of the political spectrum. Contrary to recent claims depicting an electorate where powerful partisan loyalties bind citizens to their preferred ideological news sources, there is little evidence that selective exposure occurs on a sufficiently broad scale to affect deliberative democracy or contribute to mass polarization.

Toujours soucieux de diaboliser les républicains, Richard Hétu a rapporté sur son blogue que la droite américaine était déconnectée de la réalité parce que celle-ci s’informait uniquement chez les médias sympathiques à leurs idées. Malheureusement pour Richard Hétu, la science montre que celui-ci a encore fait un travail médiocre sur son blogue. Mais comme on le sait, le Hétutistan forme un cocon imperméable aux faits et à la science…