Campaign news genres, audience characteristics, and media perceptions: A field experiment


This study builds on theories of ‘‘relative hostile media perceptions’’ to assess how audience characteristics and the ideological content of programming interact to shape media perceptions across different news genres. It uses a field experiment in which participants were randomly assigned to watch coverage of the 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses on broadcast network evening news (ABC World News), a conservative- oriented political talk show (Fox News Channel’s Hannity), or a political satire show (Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart). Partisanship and age shaped evaluations of coverage across these different genres: Partisans held more favorable views of news aligned with their own views, older participants favored network news, and younger participants favored political comedy. Additionally, viewing network news or political satire — but not conservative opinion talk — fostered more positive evaluations of the news media in general. The results illuminate how viewers form media perceptions in an increasingly fragmented media landscape.

Electronic News 7(4): 189-203
Philip Edward Jones
Philip Edward Jones
Associate Professor of Political Science