Hollander, Barry A. (forthcoming), The role of media use in the recall versus recognition of political knowledge. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.
The only thing missing in the title above is a colon. Without one, you kinda doubt it's actual scholarly research.
What's it about (you ask breathlessly)?
Glad you asked.
I used a question-wording experiment in a national survey to see whether recognition-type political knowledge questions (multiple choice) get different results than recall-type questions (open-ended). First, of course they do. Everyone knows multiple guess is easier than short answer questions. I hypothesize something more -- that people who rely on TV news will do better on recognition questions but people who rely on print will do better on recall.
It worked. Mostly. For TV news exposure, it predicts recognition (but not recall) knowledge. Print newspapers and radio do nothing. But using Internet for news predicts recall (but not recognition) knowledge. And yes, this was a multivariate analysis, meaning I controlled statistically for all the usual suspects (age, income, education, political interest, etc.).
And to top it all off, among the less educated, TV plays a bigger role in recognition knowledge than it does for those with greater education.
There's a bunch of theory stuff in the paper, but basically TV news is all about recognition, is all about being an information leveler for less educated (or interested). Recall requires deeper attention. What's interesting is exposure to paper newspapers does nothing and it seems to have been supplanted by Internet news as a predictor of knowledge. That alone is kinda fascinating, in a PhDweeby kind of way.
This will all appear in a journal near you, sometime in 2014.