News That Matters: Television and American Opinion, Updated Edition

University of Chicago Press
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Almost twenty-five years ago, Shanto Iyengar and Donald R. Kinder first documented a series of sophisticated and innovative experiments that unobtrusively altered the order and emphasis of news stories in selected television broadcasts. Their resulting book News That Matters, now hailed as a classic by scholars of political science and public opinion alike, is here updated for the twenty-first century, with a new preface and epilogue by the authors. Backed by careful analysis of public opinion surveys, the authors show how, despite changing American politics, those issues that receive extended coverage in the national news become more important to viewers, while those that are ignored lose credibility. Moreover, those issues that are prominent in the news stream continue to loom more heavily as criteria for evaluating the president and for choosing between political candidates.

News That Matters does matter, because it demonstrates conclusively that television newscasts powerfully affect opinion. . . . All that follows, whether it supports, modifies, or challenges their conclusions, will have to begin here.”—The Public Interest

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About the author

Shanto Iyengar is the Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication, professor of political science, and director of the Political Communication Lab at Stanford University. He is the author ofseveral other books. Donald R. Kinder is the Philip E. Converse Collegiate Professor in the Department of Political Science and professor of psychology and research professor in the Center for Political Studies of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, as well as the author of several additional books.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Oct 15, 2010
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9780226388601
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Journalism
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Benjamin I. Page
Kevin Arceneaux
We live in an age of media saturation, where with a few clicks of the remote—or mouse—we can tune in to programming where the facts fit our ideological predispositions. But what are the political consequences of this vast landscape of media choice? Partisan news has been roundly castigated for reinforcing prior beliefs and contributing to the highly polarized political environment we have today, but there is little evidence to support this claim, and much of what we know about the impact of news media come from studies that were conducted at a time when viewers chose from among six channels rather than scores.

Through a series of innovative experiments, Kevin Arceneaux and Martin Johnson show that such criticism is unfounded. Americans who watch cable news are already polarized, and their exposure to partisan programming of their choice has little influence on their political positions. In fact, the opposite is true: viewers become more polarized when forced to watch programming that opposes their beliefs. A much more troubling consequence of the ever-expanding media environment, the authors show, is that it has allowed people to tune out the news: the four top-rated partisan news programs draw a mere three percent of the total number of people watching television.

Overturning much of the conventional wisdom, Changing Minds or Changing Channels? demonstrate that the strong effects of media exposure found in past research are simply not applicable in today’s more saturated media landscape.
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