Misunderstanding News Audiences
Seven Myths of the Social Media Era
Misunderstanding News Audiences interrogates the prevailing myths around the impact of the Internet and social media on news consumption and democracy. The book draws on a broad range of comparative research into audience engagement with news, across different geographic regions, to provide insight into the experience of news audiences in the twenty-first century.
From its inception, it was imagined that the Internet would benignly transform the nature of news media and its consumers. There were predictions that it would, for example, break up news oligarchies, improve plurality and diversity through news personalisation, create genuine social solidarity online, and increase political awareness and participation among citizens. However, this book finds that, while mainstream news media is still the major source of news, the new media environment appears to lead to greater polarisation between news junkies and news avoiders, and to greater political polarisation. The authors also argue that the dominant role of the USA in the field of news audience research has created myths about a global news audience, which obscures the importance of national context as a major explanation for news exposure differences.
Misunderstanding News Audiences presents an important analysis of findings from recent audience studies and, in doing so, encourages readers to re-evaluate popular beliefs about the influence of the Internet on news consumption and democracy in the West.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Introduction; Chapter Two: Personalisation is democratisation; Chapter Three: We are all journalists now; Chapter Four: The wisdom of crowds? How algorithms rule online; Chapter Five: Globalisation; Chapter Six: Communities online are replacing communities offline; Chapter Seven: The end of trust in mainstream media; Chapter Eight: The net generation will revolutionise the way we relate to news; Chapter Nine: Conclusion
Eiri Elvestad is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University College of Southeast Norway. She is the author of two books, including one concerned with Norwegian adolescents’ relationship to news, and she has written several articles in international journals about the changing media environment and news exposure.
Angela Phillips is Professor of Journalism at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. She worked as a journalist for print and online publications, as well as in broadcasting, before focusing on academic research in ethical working practices and news audiences. Her last book was Journalism in Context (2015).
"This is a powerfully written, well-researched myth-buster that demolishes standard arguments about the role of the Internet in fostering global understanding, bottom-up journalism, the wisdom of crowds, social trust and sense of community. It is an important book for students of journalism around the world."
James Curran, Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
"In this well-written and important book, Elvestad and Phillips are diligent in their examination of the many myths that have developed about the role of the Internet and its impact on news audiences."
Toril Aalberg, Department of Sociology and Political Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway