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Selective exposure to public service news over 30 years: the role of political preferences

Conference contribution
Authors Peter Dahlgren
Published in 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA). Prague, 24-28 May
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Subject categories Media Studies, Communication Studies, Political Science


The transition from a low-choice (e.g., television) to a high-choice (e.g., internet) media environment has led to concerns about audience fragmentation, ideological enclaves, and selective exposure to partisan news media consistent with people’s political preferences. However, previous research has mainly focused on two-party systems (e.g., the United States), partisan news (e.g., Fox News or MSNBC), and single points in time. The aim of this paper is therefore to provide the most comprehensive study of which political preferences (ideological leaning, party support, and political interest) have driven selective exposure to public service news over 30 years, during the entire period from a low-choice to a high-choice media environment. Using an annual representative survey conducted from 1986 to 2015 in Sweden (n = 103,589), results suggest that (1) the ideological left and right are using public service news to the same extent over time, and that (2) support for parties outside (rather than inside) parliament accounts for a large decline in public service news use over time. But most importantly, (3) those who lack political interest show the largest decline in public service news use, while those who have a political interest sustain public service news use considerably more over time.

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