[UCP Books]: How Partisan Media Polarize America
|Pub date: Oct. 1, 2013 • UK pub date: Oct. 14, 2013||Paper $22.50 • £16.00 • 978-0-226-06901-2|
Kevin Arceneaux and Martin Johnson
|Pub date: Oct. 1, 2013 • UK pub date: Oct. 14, 2013||Paper $25.00 • £17.50 • 978-0-226-04730-0|
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? How has partisan news contributed to the highly polarized political environment we have today? The debate remains far from resolved, as two recent contributions demonstrate.
With Changing Minds or Changing Channels?, Kevin Arceneaux and Martin Johnson argue that much of the criticism against partisan news is unfounded. Only a small portion of the American population watches cable news, and those who do are already polarized. Their exposure to programming of their choice does not significantly change their position. In fact, they find that the opposite may be true: viewers may become more polarized when forced to watch programming that opposes their beliefs.
Drawing on similar data, Matthew Levendusky comes to a very different conclusion: In How Partisan Media Polarize America, he argues that Americans who watch partisan programming do become more certain of their beliefs and less willing to weigh the merits of opposing views. And, while such viewers comprise only a small segment of the population, they tend to be more politically engaged and their effects on national politics are therefore far-reaching.
In a time when politics seem doomed to partisan discord, all interested in American politics will want to consult these two books for a much-needed clarification of the role partisan media might play.
Matthew Levendusky is assistant professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania.
Kevin Arceneaux is associate professor of political science and an affiliate of the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University.
Martin Johnson is professor in the Department of Political Science and directs the Media and Communication Research Lab at the University of California, Riverside.
All three authors are available for interviews. Please contact Melinda Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (773) 702-2945 for more information.