By James Prumos, Trending Writer
Voters are informed of political news through many different sources. These sources may have their own distinct biases towards either the left or the right of the political spectrum. According to studies completed by Pew Research Center, viewers whose perspectives align with the left, the right, and those who have mixed thoughts all have very distinct news viewing habits. In particular, the studies go into detail on how viewers who are consistently conservative or liberal access their news. For consistent conservatives 47 percent cite Fox News as their main news source and tend to distrust most news sources. Consistent liberals are more stratified in their main news source and tend to trust more new sources. Those with mixed views are the most likely to access their news from the highest number of sources across the political spectrum. This has allowed sources to become biased in order to favor their audience’s political views and it also allows certain groups in the political spectrum to reach and influence infrequent viewers.
Studies have been conducted by Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab to discover the impact different news sources can have on voting behavior. They start out by saying that while a source’s choice of news coverage can end up impacting how a voter votes, they also say that viewers tend to stick to news sources that already confirm their own, creating an echo-chamber for the audience’s views. Next, surprisingly, their studies show that it is not exposure to one type of news source, conservative or liberal, that had an impact on voting trends, but rather, exposure to news sources in general. The study found that increased exposure to more news sources led to increased voting for the Democratic candidate in elections. This correlates with Pew Research Center’s data on conservatives’ choices for news being focused on a single sources, Fox News, as opposed to liberals’ more diverse set of news sources.
All news sources have a natural bias to them that can end up rubbing onto the views of their audiences, but the idea that increased viewership of sources can lead to bigger differences in political ideology than the bias of a source is remarkable. Even if these studies are not accurate, they still generate interest in how news viewership and distribution influences who voters choose to elect and if a voter has access to multiple news sources, their votes may be more informed.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st print edition.
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