Thursday, July 7, 2011

AEJMC and Political Knowledge

A few papers in the upcoming AEJMC conference include some aspect of knowledge.  Below are some abstracts I've come across that address, in some way, this topic.  Unfortunately I won't be attending AEJMC this year.

Social Media Consumption, Interpersonal Relationship and Issue Awareness • Sungsoo Bang, University of Texas, Austin • This study examines the relationship between social media consumption and issue awareness using South Korea’s 2007 national survey dataset. This study finds that there is a significant and positive relationship between consuming social media, such as Internet community sites, and issue awareness. The findings indicate that frequency of using social media significantly and positively increases issue awareness such as public policy.  The finding also indicates using social media for socilability is positively related to issue awareness, which is essential for democracy in terms of political knowledge. Furthermore, the finding shows social media uses mediate the relationship between issue awareness and interpersonal relationship such as political discussion, which demonstrates consuming social media decrease the information gap caused by interpersonal relationship.

Exploring News Media Literacy: Developing New Measures of Literacy and Knowledge • Seth Ashley, University of Missouri; Adam Maksl, University of Missouri; Stephanie Craft, University of Missouri • Using a framework previously applied to other areas of media literacy, we developed an attitudinal scale focused specifically on news media literacy and compared that to a knowledge-based index including items about the structure of the U.S. news media system. Among our college student sample, the knowledge-based index was a significant predictor of knowledge about topics in the news, while the attitudinal scale was not. Implications for future work in assessing news literacy are discussed.

Understanding News Preferences in a “Post-Broadcast Democracy”: A Content-by-Style Typology for the Contemporary News Environment • Stephanie Edgerly, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Kjerstin Thorson, University of Southern California; Emily Vraga, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Dhavan Shah • This study develops a 2×2 news typology accounting for an individual’s orientation toward content (news vs. entertainment) and style (factual reports vs. pundit opinions). Findings from cross-sectional and panel data reveal that our typology predicts distinct patterns of news consumption during the 2008 election. Specifically, we predict selection of cable news outlets, soft news programs, and late-night talk shows. Our results also shed light on knowledge change during the 2008 election season.

Knowledge Gaps, Belief Gaps, and Public Opinion about Health Care Reform • Doug Hindman, Washington State University • Partisanship and political polarization has become the norm in national, and increasingly, local politics. The passage of the health care overhaul legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010, was no exception to the trend towards greater levels of partisanship; the legislation passed without a single Republican vote. This study raises an additional issue thought to be associated with polarization and partisanship: the distribution among the public of beliefs regarding heavily covered political controversies. Specifically, this study tests hypotheses regarding the distribution of beliefs and knowledge about health care reform. Hypotheses are formulated that seek to extend the knowledge gap to account for the partisan environment.  The belief gap hypothesis suggests that in an era of political polarization, self identification along ideological or political party dimensions would be the better predictor of knowledge and beliefs about politically contested issues than would one’s educational level.  Findings showed that gaps in beliefs and knowledge regarding health care reform between Republicans and Democrats grew, and traditional knowledge gaps, based on educational level, disappeared. Attention to cable TV news narrowed gaps in knowledge among party identifiers. Findings are discussed in terms of improving news coverage of partisan debates.

The Rise of Specialists, the Fall of Generalists • S. Mo Jang • The present study revisits the question as to whether U.S. citizens are information specialists or information generalists.  Although the literature has presented mixed views, the study provides evidence that the changing information environment facilitates the growth of specialists.  Using a national survey (n=1208), the study found that individuals seek issue-specific knowledge driven by their perceived issue importance rather than by general education, and that this trend was saliently observed among those who relied on the Internet.

Understanding the Internet’s Impact on International Knowledge and Engagement: News Attention, Social Media Use, and the 2010 Haitian Earthquake • Jason A. Martin, Indiana University School of Journalism • Relatively little is known about how Internet media use and other motivational factors are associated with outcomes such as knowledge of international news and involvement. Recent research suggests that attention and interaction with foreign affairs news is one path to closing the knowledge gap in this context. The acquisition of foreign affairs knowledge also has implications for individuals’ abilities to have a broader worldview, to hold accurate public opinions about foreign nations, to facilitate a greater since of global belonging, and to get involved with international events.  This paper examines the relationship of media use, foreign affairs political knowledge, and international involvement. A nationally representative survey conducted shortly after the 2010 Haitian earthquake produced measures of demographics, news media use, social media use, international engagement, general political knowledge, and foreign affairs knowledge.  Statistical analysis found that news exposure, news attention and various types of social media use produced significant independent positive associations with international news knowledge and international involvement after demographic controls. Hierarchical regression also found that domestic political knowledge, cable TV exposure, Internet news exposure, and radio exposure were the most important predictors of international knowledge. Another regression found that news attention, e-mail use, social media use, and texting about the Haitian earthquake were the three strongest predictors of international involvement.  These findings support related research that has found a positive association among Internet news use, international knowledge, and international engagement while also making new contributions regarding the importance of mediated interpersonal discussion for predicting international involvement.

Wikipedia vs. Encyclopedia Britannica: A Longitudinal Analysis to Identify the Impact of Social Media on the Standards of Knowledge • Marcus Messner, Virginia Commonwealth University; Marcia DiStaso, Pennsylvania State University • The collaboratively edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia is among the most popular Web sites in the world. Subsequently, it poses a great challenge to traditional encyclopedias, which for centuries have set the standards of society’s knowledge. It is, therefore, important to study the impact of social media on the standards of our knowledge. This longitudinal panel study analyzed the framing of content in entries of Fortune 500 companies in Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica between 2006 and 2010. Content analyses of the length, tonality and topics of 3,985 sentences showed that Wikipedia entries are significantly longer, more positively and negatively framed, and focus more on corporate social responsibilities and legal and ethical issues than in Britannica, which is predominantly neutral. The findings stress that the knowledge-generation processes in society appear to be shifting because of social media. These changes significantly impact which information becomes available to society and how it is framed.

The Influence of Knowledge Gap on Personal and Attributed HIV/AIDS Stigma in Korea • Byoungkwan Lee; Hyun Jung Oh; Seyeon Keum; Younjae Lee, Hanyang University • This study tests a comprehensive model that explicates the influence of AIDS knowledge gap on personal and attributed stigma. Fear of contagion serves as a mediator between AIDS knowledge gap and AIDS stigma. An analysis of the survey data collected to evaluate the impact of 2008 AIDS campaign in Korea reveals that AIDS knowledge was significantly associated with personal stigma both directly and indirectly but only indirectly associated with attributed stigma through fear of contagion.

Perceived Threat, Immigration Policy Support, and Media Coverage: Hostile Media and Presumed Effects in North Carolina • Brendan Watson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Journalism & Mass Communication; Daniel Riffe, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill • This study, using survey data (N=529), examined perceived “”threat,”" subjective knowledge about immigration, support for punitive and assimilative policies, and opinions about media coverage effects. Perceived threat was related to support for punitive policies, and “”hostile media perception”" was confirmed.  However, perceived threat was not related to presumed influence of coverage. Internet use, age, race, and education predicted threat perception; perceived threat, perceived favorableness of coverage, and daily newspaper reading predicted presumed influence of coverage.

Evolutionary Psychology, Social Emotions and Social Networking Sites — An Integrative Model • Sandra Suran; Gary Pettey; Cheryl Bracken; Robert Whitbred • This exploratory research employed an Evolutionary Psychology (EP) perspective whereby the human mind is viewed through the lens of the physiological and psychological mechanisms that created the developmental programs we use today (Cosmides & Tooby, 1992). This theoretical framework was used to study the relationship between human behavior, the state of alienation, and Social Networking Sites  (SNS). Based on survey data from college students, there seemed to be a relationship between alienation and SNS. Alienation dimensions were highest among those who had the lowest amount of contacts on SNS.  The findings from this study will add to the body of knowledge on Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) as well as afford an opportunity for further research in understanding human behavior engaged in SNS through the viewpoint of Evolutionary Psychology.

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