Collective Attention & Politicization of Information: Evidence from News articles on Climate Change
26 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 20, 2021
There has been a surge in polarization in recent years, resulting in a decline in institutional trust and subjective well-being. Motivated by the fact that polarization could emerge from the politicization of news content in the media (i.e., framing), this paper uses the universe of articles related to climate change from The Guardian between 2004 and 2018 to estimate the effects of politicization on user engagement. We find that a rise in politicized content is associated with significant increase in user engagement for non-climate change articles, but with a much weaker increase for articles with greater climate change intensity. We furthermore explore the mechanisms behind these results and show that the politicized content of the discussion sections of the articles accounts for the overall effects. Our results suggest that organizations in the digital economy can communicate factual information to consumers better by avoiding politicized rhetoric.
Keywords: attention, climate change, digital platforms, information, politicization, user engagement
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