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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
Unformatted Document Text:  Religion, Communication, and Social Capital --22-- Some Data-Related Issues Our study utilized a national survey data set collected during the 2000 presidential elections. This raises a number of issues that we need to address at least briefly. First, it has been argued that levels of media use, efficacy and political trust may be overall higher during election years (e.g., Moy & Scheufele, 2000). This is likely due to the fact that election campaigns provide easy access to political information and increase feelings of involvement in the political process. Second, the media measures included in the National Election Study did not tap the attention and exposure to various types of content to the degree that would have been ideal for our purposes. Norris (1996) and Moy, Scheufele and Holbert (1999), for example, demonstrated that the role of media use in promoting civic life is to a large degree dependent on the specific content that individuals attend to. This raises two issues. As far as content is concerned, our measure of newspaper use did not explicitly tap use of political news. Unfortunately, the content-specific measures all referred to the presidential race in particular which would have limited the comparability between this measure and other variables in our model. For the second problematic issue – the lack of attention measures – we encountered similar problems, i.e., content-specific attention measures that referred too narrowly to the presidential race. Overall, the use of less-than-perfect single- item hard news use measures in our study likely increased the chance of random measurement error and probably led us to underestimate effects. In other words, more reliable and valid media measures would likely strengthen the pathways to and from television and newspaper hard news use. Moreover, the current study does not explore the effects of religious media. The new “evangelical public sphere” that includes cable news, entertainment, and talk networks, religious

Authors: Nisbet, Matthew., Moy, Patricia. and Scheufele, Dietram.
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Religion, Communication, and Social Capital
--22--
Some Data-Related Issues
Our study utilized a national survey data set collected during the 2000 presidential
elections. This raises a number of issues that we need to address at least briefly.
First, it has been argued that levels of media use, efficacy and political trust may be overall
higher during election years (e.g., Moy & Scheufele, 2000). This is likely due to the fact that
election campaigns provide easy access to political information and increase feelings of
involvement in the political process. Second, the media measures included in the National
Election Study did not tap the attention and exposure to various types of content to the degree
that would have been ideal for our purposes. Norris (1996) and Moy, Scheufele and Holbert
(1999), for example, demonstrated that the role of media use in promoting civic life is to a large
degree dependent on the specific content that individuals attend to.
This raises two issues. As far as content is concerned, our measure of newspaper use did
not explicitly tap use of political news. Unfortunately, the content-specific measures all referred
to the presidential race in particular which would have limited the comparability between this
measure and other variables in our model. For the second problematic issue – the lack of
attention measures – we encountered similar problems, i.e., content-specific attention measures
that referred too narrowly to the presidential race. Overall, the use of less-than-perfect single-
item hard news use measures in our study likely increased the chance of random measurement
error and probably led us to underestimate effects. In other words, more reliable and valid media
measures would likely strengthen the pathways to and from television and newspaper hard news
use.
Moreover, the current study does not explore the effects of religious media. The new
“evangelical public sphere” that includes cable news, entertainment, and talk networks, religious


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