Rethinking the Generational Gap in Online News Use: An Infrastructural Perspective

(Forthcoming). New Media & Society

35 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017  

Harsh Taneja

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Angela Wu

New York University (NYU) - Department of Culture and Communication

Stephanie Edgerly

Northwestern University

Date Written: April 4, 2017

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Taneja, Harsh and Wu, Angela and Edgerly, Stephanie, Rethinking the Generational Gap in Online News Use: An Infrastructural Perspective (April 4, 2017). (Forthcoming). New Media & Society. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2946591

Harsh Taneja

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

601 E John St
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

Angela Wu (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Culture and Communication ( email )

239 Greene St., 7th Floor
New York, NY 10003-1836
United States

Stephanie Edgerly

Northwestern University

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