Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two Papers on Internet and Information Use, Disintermediation

Is the internet reflecting, or perhaps causing, increased segregation of news consumption and information exposure?


Ideological Segregation Online and Offline

Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse Shapiro
NBER Working Paper, April 2010

Abstract: We use individual and aggregate data to ask how the Internet is changing the ideological segregation of the American electorate. Focusing on online news consumption, offline news consumption, and face-to-face social interactions, we define ideological segregation in each domain using standard indices from the literature on racial segregation. We find that ideological segregation of online news consumption is low in absolute terms, higher than the segregation of most offline news consumption, and significantly lower than the segregation of face-to-face interactions with neighbors, co-workers, or family members. We find no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time.

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The World Wide Web and the U.S. Political News Market

Norman Nie, Darwin Miller, Saar Golde, Daniel Butler & Kenneth Winneg
American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, Pages 428-439

Abstract: We propose a framework for understanding how the Internet has affected the
U.S. political news market. The framework is driven by the lower cost of production for online news and consumers' tendency to seek out media that conform to their own beliefs. The framework predicts that consumers of Internet news sources should hold more extreme political views and be interested in more diverse political issues than those who solely consume mainstream television news. We test these predictions using two large datasets with questions about news exposure and political views. Generally speaking, we find that consumers of generally left-of-center (right-of-center) cable news sources who combine their cable news viewing with online sources are more liberal (conservative) than those who do not. We also find that those who use online news content are more likely than those who consume only television news content to be interested in niche political issues.


(Nod to Kevin L)