Rethinking the Generational Gap in Online News Use: An Infrastructural Perspective
(Forthcoming). New Media & Society
35 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 4, 2017
Our study investigates the role of infrastructures in shaping online news usage by contrasting use patterns of two social groups—millennials and boomers—that are specifically located in news infrastructures. Typically based on self-reported data, popular press and academics tend to highlight the generational gap in news usage and link it to divergence in values and preferences of the two age cohorts. In contrast, we conduct relational analyses of shared usage obtained from passively metered usage data across a vast range of online news outlets for millennials and boomers. We compare each cohort’s usage networks comprising various types of news websites. Our analyses reveal a smaller-than-commonly-assumed generational gap in online news usage, with characteristics that manifest the multifarious effects of the infrastructural aspect of the media environment, alongside those of preferences.
Keywords: millennials, boomers, infrastructure, online news, news preferences, social media, legacy media, political polarization
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