Engaging and Disengaging with Political News

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Jacob Ørmen, Jakob Linaa Jensen

The possibilities of accessing and engaging with news are bigger than ever, due to developments in the media markets (e.g. the increase of commercial broadcasters) and technological innovations (e.g. the advent of smartphones and tablets) among other things. At the same time, studies have shown (most notably by Prior, 2007; Stromback, Djerf-Pierre, & Shehata, 2012) that this development also can lead to an increase in the number of people who utilize this enhanced media choice to skip news altogether. One area that merits special attention in this context is political news. Critical engagement with political news if often portrayed as both a requirement for a well-functioning democracy (Walsh, 2004) and as a source of increased civic participation (Norris, 2012). Furthermore, the consumption and discussion of political news can be seen as an essential part of the ongoing opinion formation (Gamson, 1992) and 'performance of identity' (Madianou, 2009) that take place throughout people's everyday life. To further understand these processes it is important to attend to how users engage – or disengage – with political news. To do this we present a typology of news users based on an exploratory cluster analysis of a survey of the adult Danish population (n = 1205). The typology encompasses archetypical ways user can consume (e.g. watching news on TV, reading news in print as well as digital versions, encountering news on social networks and in face-to-face situations) and discuss political news. The results of the cluster analysis suggest that this typology is interesting on at least three levels of user engagement. The primary level consists of the fundamental gap between users that access political news ("the engaged") and users that avoid politics altogether ("the disengaged"). On the secondary level, we further investigate the differences between users that only consume political news and users that also talk about politics with others. And on the tertiary level, we identify the most widespread communicative practices (e.g. sharing content on social network sites, writing comments on blogs and conversing face-to-face) that users engage in for political discussion, and compare these across demographics as well as relevant media use patterns. The findings from the survey will be supplemented by results from a series of qualitative interviews that shed light on the motivations users have for engaging with the news through various media platforms and the reasons non-users provide for skipping news.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventECREA: 5th European Communication Conference - Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 12 Nov 201415 Nov 2014

Conference

ConferenceECREA
LocationLisbon
CountryPortugal
CityLisbon
Period12/11/201415/11/2014

ID: 130796835