Media as Sources of Political Information

By: Anna Mierzecka  

The importance of political communication channels used by young people is clear in the light of numerous research which shows a growing political apathy of youth (Macintosh, 2008; Van Biezen, Mair and Poguntke, 2012). Some researchers disagree with this statement and describe the phenomenon of cultural displacement, which includes diverse political and civic activities, emphasizing the wide range of opportunities for social and political behavior offered by the Internet (Loader et al. 2014). This point of view also implies the significance of young people's political communication behavior recognition. This research looks to answer the question, how the younger generation uses media as sources of political information. Being aware of the significance of local conditions in this context we investigate this topic by conducting a survey among young citizens in Poland and Lithuania. The comparison of results from those two countries is possible thanks to similar historical and cultural experience (i.e. in both countries, after II World War, democratic transitions started in the nineteen nineties). The survey was conducted using a technique of Paper and Pen Personal Interview among the students (n=852) from University of Warsaw (Poland) and Vilnius University (Lithuania) two weeks before the last presidential elections in both countries. The students were chosen as respondents as the most active group of young people in the context of media usage. The objects of our interest were everyday patterns of media usage, the usefulness of different media channels as the sources of political information, and the level of active online media usage. Special attention was paid to usage of different media types, such as traditional like newspapers, radio, and television and digital ones like news portals. Additionally, social media and their usage were analyzed because of their potential to increase political engagement. The results show that despite the fact that the newspaper and radio are rarely used sources of information, the television still surprisingly plays an important role for young people. The same is with digital sources of information like news portals and social media; however the level of their interactive usage is quite low in the context of politics. The results were analysed using as independent variables the nationality, the political orientation of respondents, declarative level of political engagement, but also the area of study. The respondents represented humanities and social science (n=462) and science (n=390). This allows us to create a detailed picture of media usage for political purpose by young people from Poland and Lithuania.

Mass Media Politics
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Anna Mierzecka

Assistant professor, University of Warsaw, Poland
-, Poland