Searching for Media Complementarity: Use of Social Network Sites and Other Online Media for Campaign Information Among Young Adults
Presented at the Annual Convention of the Western States Communication Association, Phoenix, AZ
33 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2008
Date Written: February 1, 2009
Social network sites have recently garnered a great deal of attention from new media scholars. These sites are emerging as a source for political information among young adults. This study explores how use of social network sites by young adults for campaign information about the 2008 presidential primaries relates to their use of other internet media for information about the campaign, specifically: email, online campaign videos and news satire websites. Many scholars have debated the effect of new media on established media. This study tests the complementarity framework proposed by Dutta-Bergman (2004). The complementairty framework states that people who consume specific information through one medium are likely to consume that information about that specific topic in other media. This perspective propounds that new and established media, in terms use for content-specific information, do not compete but rather complement each other. The current study focuses on young adults who use social network sites, comparing those within this population who use these sites for campaign information and those who do not. Our results show that social network site use for campaign information is associated with use of email for campaign information. Social network site users of campaign information were more likely to also use email for campaign information than social network site users who do not use these sites for campaign information. Social network site use for campaign information was also associated with consumption of online campaign videos with users more likely to consume online campaign video than persons who do not use social network sites for campaign information. There was no relationship between social network site use for campaign information and use of news satire websites. These results demonstrate support for the complementarity framework in regard to use of email and consumption of online campaign videos but not for use of news satire websites. Our findings elucidate the role of social network sites in young adults' gathering of campaign information and are thus significant for new media scholars as well as political communication scholars. By highlighting how the use of different media for campaign information relates across the internet, insight is achieved into the role various media play for young adults coming of age in an increasingly complex mediascape.
Keywords: social network sites, politics, complementarity, social media, new media, web2.0
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