Red Media, Blue Media: Evidence of Ideological Selectivity in Media Use

Iyengar, Shanto; Hahn, Kyu S
Journal of Communication

We show that the demand for news varies with the perceived affinity of the news organization to the consumer’s political preferences. In an experimental setting, conservatives and Republicans preferred to read news reports attributed to Fox News and to avoid news from CNN and NPR. Democrats and liberals exhibited exactly the opposite syndrome—dividing their attention equally between CNN and NPR, but avoiding Fox News. This pattern of selective exposure based on partisan affinity held not only for news coverage of controversial issues but also for relatively “soft” subjects such as crime and travel. The tendency to select news based on anticipated agreement was also strengthened among more politically engaged partisans. Overall, these results suggest that the further proliferation of new media and enhanced media choices may contribute to the further polarization of the news audience.