Compensator, Amplifier, or Distractor? The Moderating Role of Informal Political Talk on the Effect of News Media Use on Current Affairs Learning Among First-Time Voters

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Abstract

With an increasing number of young people turning away from traditional news sources, an important question for democracy is whether alternative sources can help learning about politics and current affairs. In this study, we examine to what extent informal political talk with friends, family, and peers narrows or widens knowledge gaps amongst young people by compensating those with low news media use (“helping the poor”), amplifying news media effects amongst those with high news media use (“the rich get richer”), or distracting those with high news media use (“taxing the rich”). To test these different potentials, we take advantage of a four-wave panel study fielded ahead of the Danish National Election in 2015 among a sample of Danish first-time voters (ages 17 to 21). Our results show that informal political talk functions mostly as a compensator by informing those with low news media use about current political affairs and thereby helps decrease knowledge gaps caused by different levels of news media use.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Communication
Volume35
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)634-654
ISSN1058-4609
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2. Oct 2018

Keywords

  • news media use
  • panel survey
  • political knowledge
  • political talk

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