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Selective Exposure to Public Service News over Thirty Years: The Role of Ideological Leaning, Party Support, and Political Interest

Journal article
Authors Peter Dahlgren
Published in International Journal of Press/Politics
ISSN 19401612
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Language en
Keywords audience fragmentation, echo chambers, ideological asymmetry, longitudinal analysis, partisan news, political ideology, political polarization, public service broadcasting (PSB), selective exposure
Subject categories Communication Studies, Media Studies


The transition from a low-choice to a high-choice 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) and partisan news (e.g., Fox News or MSNBC), studied at 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 thirty years, covering the transition 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 have used 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 public service news use has remained more stable among politically interested citizens.

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