Inspiring and Informing Citizens Online: A Media Richness Analysis of Varied Civic Education Modalities

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 2015

16 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2015 Last revised: 30 May 2016

See all articles by David Brinker

David Brinker

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Communication Arts & Sciences

John Gastil

Pennsylvania State University

Robert C. Richards

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service

Date Written: June 5, 2015

Abstract

Public deliberation on the Internet is a promising but unproven practice. Online deliberation can engage large numbers of citizens at relatively low cost, but it is unclear whether such programs have substantial civic impact. One factor in determining their effectiveness may be the communicative features of the online setting in which they occur. Within a Media Richness Theory framework, we conducted a quasi-experiment to assess the civic outcomes of interventions executed online by non-profit organizations prior to the 2012 U.S. presidential election. The results assess the impact of these interventions on issue knowledge and civic attitudes. Comparisons of the interventions illustrate the importance of considering media richness online, and our discussion considers the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.

Keywords: Deliberation, Online Deliberation, Democratic Deliberation, Civic Engagement, Media Richness Theory, Political Communication, Interactivity

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Brinker, David and Gastil, John and Richards, Robert C., Inspiring and Informing Citizens Online: A Media Richness Analysis of Varied Civic Education Modalities (June 5, 2015). Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2592109

David Brinker

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Communication Arts & Sciences ( email )

234 S Sparks St
University Park, PA 16802
United States

John Gastil (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

Robert C. Richards

University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service ( email )

1200 President Clinton Ave
Little Rock, AR 72201
United States

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