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Being informed vs feeling informed

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					   Being    An examination of
              entertainment-
informed     based news and
               whether such

    vs.
            programs inform or
            create the sense of
              being informed.
  feeling
informed          Barry Hollander
                   Grady College
                University of Georgia
High school students
use the news, just not in
traditional formats.
They also see describe
alternative sources as
news, such as The Daily
Show.
                                            7
Source: The Future of the First Amendment
for the John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation (2006).
               What about young adults?
 How often do you watch The Daily Show by Age Group?

                  Regularly          Sometimes      Hardly ever            Never
18-29                  11                  24           12                      53
30-49                    7                 15           11                      66
50-64                    4                 13           11                      71
65+                      3                      8         7                     81

                                                      Source: Pew Center for the People and the
                                                             Press, July 30 2006, survey
 Percent of All Regular Use of Programs
                                                     Young people tend to use other
40
                                                    news-related media less often than
                                      Stewart
30
                                      Limbaugh
                                                    other age categories except for
20
                                      Cable News    listening to talk radio or watching
10                                    Late Night    morning news shows. The overall
 0
                                                    audience for The Daily Show is
      2002     2004      2006
                                                    relatively small compared to other
                                                    programs.
Why            An enlightened citizenry is
                considered one of the foundations
knowledge   
                of a successful democracy.
                Informed citizens are thought to be
matters         less susceptible to persuasion by
                emotional arguments or
                demagoguery.
               Despite dramatic increases in
                education and information
                sources, how much people know
                about public affairs has not
                significantly changed.
               Unfortunately, “to say that much of
                the public is uninformed about
                much of the substance of politics
                and public policy is to say nothing
                new” (Delli Carpini & Keeter, 1992,
                p. 19).
    Measures of Knowledge
   Recall
    The traditional measure of knowledge, either to civics
    textbook or current events questions, that requires a
    respondent pull a correct answer from his or her head.
   Recognition
    Less traditional, multiple measures of whether a
    respondent recognizes or remembers something about
    a story or topic, a feeling of knowing.
   Estimate
    Respondents asked to estimate their level of
    knowledge. Similar to internal efficacy; often modestly
    correlated with actual knowledge.
      Measures of Media Use
   Exposure
    Measures of mere exposure, from number of days used to
    scales that range from “regularly” to “never” for specific
    media. Fails to capture the haphazard nature of some
    media.
   Attention
    Typically builds on exposure and taps how much
    attention paid to a medium, a measure preferred by
    many to understand television and related media.
   Motivated Use
    Often used to measure use for a specific purpose, such
    as to keep up with news (i.e., reliance). Helpful when
    asking about entertainment-based media with a news
    angle, such as The Daily Show or West Wing.
               Soft and Hard News
 Many studies find no relationship between watching entertainment-
based programs or soft news and political knowledge.
 Baum argues that soft news can lead to incidental learning by an
inattentive public. He found an interaction with education and soft
news use much like the one I found for talk radio exposure.
 Prior, in response to Baum, found very little support for the notion that
soft news can lead to greater knowledge. He suggests instead political
advertising may hold the key to informing the public.
 A recent experiment by Baumgartner & Morris found that watching
The Daily Show contributed greatly to a sense of being informed but
greater cynicism about the political process.
 Brewer & Cao found seeing a candidate on late-night or comedy
shows can positively influence knowledge about the campaign.
 A study forthcoming in JOBEM suggests that The Daily Show with Jon
Stewart contains as much substantive news coverage as traditional
broadcast network newscasts.
One
Study                         Multivariate Analysis Findings
                              Watching late-night shows such as Leno and
                              Letterman to keep up with the news, after
                              statistical controls, was negatively associated
In a recent Journal of
                              with with recall but positively associated with
Broadcasting & Electronic     recognition.
Media piece (V49, #3,
2005) I examined the effect   Watching such comedy programs as The
                              Daily Show to keep up with the news was
of watching late-night and
                              negatively associated with recall but
comedy programs to keep       unrelated to recognition.
up with the news. My
dependent variables were      Age did not interact with viewing in the
                              expected ways. For example, watching
recall and recognition of
                              comedy shows improved both recognition
political information.        and recall for younger viewers. Late-night
I predicted an age            viewing was not associated with recognition
                              regardless of age, but for older respondents it
interaction with viewing
                              led to less recall as compared to younger
based on my earlier           viewers.
published work on talk
radio. However, as is often
the case, data got in the
way of a good theory.
                         Political Knowledge (4-item index)

                         Do you happen to know which political party has a majority in the U.S.


This
                         House of Representatives?

                         Do you know the name of the terrorist organization that is responsible for
                         the September 11th attacks on the United States?


Study                    In the recent trial involving Martha Stewart, can you recall whether (she
                         was found guilty/she was found innocent/there was a mistrial)?

Does watching The        Since the start of military action in Iraq last March, about how many U.S.
Daily Show affect        soldiers have been killed? To the best of your knowledge, has it been
young viewers            under 500, 500 to 1000, 1000 to 2000, or more than 2000?
different than other
viewers on
knowledge or the         Recognition (5-item index)
sense of being
informed.                How closely do you follow these issues? (4-point scale from very closely
                         to not at all closely).

                         News about the current situation in Iraq?
Data drawn from the      News about candidates for the 2004 presidential election?
2004 Pew Biennial        The Sept 11 Commission’s hearing on the 2001 terrorist attacks?
Media Consumption        The high price of gasoline these days?
Survey. My thanks to
                         The issue of gay and lesbian marriage?
the Pew Center for
making these data
available. All
interpretations are my   Efficacy
own.
                         I often don’t have enough background information to follow news stories
                         (4-point agree/disagree scale). [Coded so high scores are high internal
                         or self efficacy).
       Zero-order correlations among key variables


                                                 Late    Daily
                         Age       Paper   TV    Night   Show    Efficacy   Recog
Age
Read Newspaper            .20
Watch TV News             .15      .20
Watch Late Night          -.11     .05     .09
Watch Daily Show          -.22                    .25
Efficacy                  -.04     .16     .09    .06
Recognition               .14      .27     .34    .11     .08     .16
Knowledge                 .09      .24     .16    .07     .06     .20       .33




Non-significant correlations are
excluded from the table.
                        Watching The Daily Show

            0.2


            0.1
Partial r




              0


            -0.1
                   18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64                                           65+
                                                       Age

                         Recognition                  Efficacy             Knowledge

                   Partial correlations by Age category controlling for education, Income, sex, and race.
                   Significant partial correlations are greater than .10 or less than -.10 on this table.
                        For TV News and Newspapers, different results



                            Watching TV News                                                            Reading Daily Newspaper

            0.4                                                                                 0.4
            0.3                                                                                 0.3
Partial r




                                                                                    Partial r
            0.2                                                                                 0.2
            0.1                                                                                 0.1
               0                                                                                  0
            -0.1                                                                                -0.1
                    18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64                          65+                         18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64    65+
                                                Age                                                                    Age

                         Recognition           Efficacy        Knowledge                                 Recognition   Efficacy   Knowledge




             Partial correlations controlling for age, education, income, and
             sex.. For TV news, an r > .07 is significant. For newspapers, an r >
             .15 is significant.
            What is it about The Daily Show?

                   Young Respondents (18-24)                                 Older Respondents (45-54)

            0.2                                                       0.4
                                                                      0.3




                                                          Partial r
Partial r




            0.1
                                                                      0.2
                                                                      0.1
              0
                                                                        0
            -0.1                                                      -0.1
                   Daily   Late Night    TV      Newsp                       Daily   Late Night    TV      Newsp
                   Show                                                      Show
                                   Age                                                       Age

                     Recognition   Efficacy   Knowledge                        Recognition   Efficacy   Knowledge
Is there something
special about this
preference for humor in
                                               Like News to be Funny
news? By age, some
interesting results
                                      0.2
emerge. Among the
youngest respondents,
there is a significant    Partial r   0.1
association between a
preference for such                     0
news and recognition,
one not seen in other
                                      -0.1
age groups.
                                             18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64    65+
                                                             Age

                                               Recognition   Efficacy   Knowledge
                                   This is a first blush at
                                   analyses examining the
                                   relationship between
If you watch the news and          entertainment-based
don't like it, then this is your   news and how much
counter program to the
news.                              young people learn – or
                                   think they learn – from
Some people confuse us             such programs.
with a news show. And
that either says something
terrible about the state of        Whether such programs
news in this country or            replace traditional news
something terrible about
the state of comedy on             for some people,
this program.                      particularly younger
                                   citizens, remains an open
                  Jon Stewart
                                   question.

				
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