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The Other 97%: Exposure to and Effects of News, Political Content, and Partisan Websites in US, Poland, and Netherlands
Thursday October 14, 2021
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (CST)


Virtual presentation via Zoom

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Presenter: Magdalena Wojcieszak, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication
University of California, Davis
The Other 97%: Exposure to and Effects of News, Political Content, and Partisan Websites in US, Poland, and Netherlands
In this presentation, I provide a new perspective on the democratic role of news media. I present three projects, each combining participants' survey self-reports and their online behavioral browsing data. First, I examine whether news exposure exacerbate polarization, worsen citizens' perceptions of the political system, and negatively impact individual well-being, in addition to generating two democratically beneficial outcomes, knowledge and participation. Two preregistered experiments tested, over-time and in naturalistic settings, the effects of incentivized (1) `news vacation' in the US and (2) `news binging' in Poland. Second, I focus on actual online exposure to partisan news media as well as to political content wherein to test the effects of each on attitude and affective polarization. In both studies, the experimental and the observational one, I find robust near zero null effects. Lastly, to explain these effects and offer more nuance into people’s online information diets, I examine the prevalence of (1) exposure to news domains; (2) political content within these domains; and (3) political content outside these domains and their effects on key democratic attitudes and behaviors in Poland, the US, and the Netherlands. Because news, politics, and partisan content are nearly unnoticeable in the context of overall information and communication ecology of most individuals, as I find, their effects are also very limited.
Bio:
Magdalena Wojcieszak (Ph.D. Annenberg School for Communication, U. of Pennsylvania), is Professor of Communication, U. of California, Davis and an Associate Researcher at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research, U. of Amsterdam, where she directs the ERC Starting Grant titled “Citizens exposed to dissimilar views in the media: investigating backfire effects.” Prof. Wojcieszak is part of the Misinformation Committee at the Social Science One, first ever partnership between academic researchers and social media platforms, and of an independent research partnership between researchers and Facebook to study the impact of Facebook and Instagram on key political attitudes and behaviors during the U.S. 2020 elections. Her research focuses on how people select political information in the current media environment and on the effects of these selections on attitudes, cognitions, and behaviors. She also examines the effects of mass media, new information technologies, and various message types on tolerance, perceptions, and polarization, as related to intergroup relations. Prof. Wojcieszak has (co-)authored over 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, is the Associate Editor of Journal of Communication, and serves on editorial boards of seven peer-reviewed journals. She has received several awards for her teaching and research (including the 2016 Young Scholar Award from the International Association of Communication).
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