Media Choice and Informed Democracy: An Empirical Study of Increasing Information Gaps in Europe
41 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2012 Last revised: 28 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
Previously it has been perceived as a citizen’s duty to follow the news and to keep oneself informed about politics and current affairs. Recently however, it appears as if a growing number of citizens ignore the information opportunities given to them. Changes in the media environment have given people cross-nationally more of a choice as to which media diet they prefer, and for the American case, Prior (2007) have demonstrated that in an era of cable TV and Internet people more readily remove themselves from political knowledge and political action then they did before. In this paper we study how the public’s consumption of news vs entertainment has developed over the last decade in countries with significantly different media systems. Is there a general increase in preference for entertainment across Europe, and has the gap between news and entertainment seekers increased like Prior documented for the US case? Who are the European citizens who remove themselves from news and current affairs in the environment of increased choice? Based on pooled data from five waves of the European Social Survey, covering more than 30 European countries from 2002 to 2010, using several innovative multilevel analyze techniques like fixed effect regression models with pseudo panel data (Verbeek 1995, Girma 2000, Jæger 2011), we demonstrate how national context or the media environment moderates the influence of individual level factors in news consumption.
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