The Effect of News Consumption on Political Trust in Europe from 2002 until 2016

By: Roy Jacobsen  

The shift from a low-choice to high-choice media environment has implications for democracy. Through the development of niche channels and audience fragmentation, news consumption is constantly competing with other genres. Television has therefore become a multidimensional phenomenon, where both the amount of television consumed, and type of genres are significant. Those with a preference for news have a variety of options between channels. For an audience which prefers entertainment or sport, the niche channels have the potential of contributing to news avoidance, resulting in a lack of confidence toward the political system. When just a few channels existed, the audience was ensured to consume a minimum of news content. Regardless if they were waiting for the next reality show or through inadvertency. Whether the audience are looking at high-quality media or low-quality media will contribute to their political attitude and behaviour, including political trust. In the current literature on political communication, it is possible to identify three main, and rival, arguments. I will refer to these as (i) the video malaise thesis; (ii) the cognitive mobilization thesis; and (iii) a virtuous circle. Most often, research has focused on factors within a single country, or on one of the three arguments. Research that combine all arguments and investigate development over time have been limited, although the development of the theoretical framework implies a shift. Using all rounds of the European Social Survey, the aim of this study is to give a more comprehensive picture of how the media environment has developed.

Television, High-choice, Media environment, Political trust, Consumption
Media Theory
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Mr. Roy Jacobsen