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Blogs as Information Sources: The Impact of Source Credibility and Partisan Affiliation

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Abstract:

One of the fastest growing sources of political news, blogs have the potential to impact how political discourse occurs in the United States. The theory of the marketplace of ideas suggests that blogs, because they contain new information from many different sources, have the potential to substantially change American political discourse. Simply put, they may be playing an increasingly important role in American politics. The role of blogs is especially important given recent discussions between scholars and pundits regarding increasing party polarization in the electorate. At the same time, Sunstein’s (2001), among others, work on e-politics suggests that blogs may also contribute to polarization and be bad for democracy

Unfortunately most scholarly work in this area (among others Taber et al. 2001; Taber 2003, Mutz 1998) focuses on traditional media sources, not on the Internet generally or blogs specifically. The work that does pertain to blogs, namely Drezner and Farrell (2004), focuses on blogs’ power to agenda-set. Given the rapid increase in blog use and their apparent dissimilarity to tradition forms of media, it is also important to study the individual-level impact blogs may have on their readers.

Druckman (2001) shows the impact of source credibility on framing effects. Taber et al. (2001) show that individuals with strong partisan affiliation and/or prior beliefs on a topic will practice self-selection. Fried (1997) demonstrates that individuals who rely on non-traditional media sources tend to practice self-selection more than those who rely on mainstream media. Given the highly partisan nature of political blogs and their user created content it is important to study the interactions between blogs, specifically their partisan affiliation and credibility, and the people who read them. Given previous research I hypothesize that individuals who read credible blogs will be show evidence of framing effects while people who read non-credible blogs will not. Further, I predict that people will seek out credible blogs, but that when given the opportunity, i.e. a choice between credible and partisan, they will practice self-selection and seek blogs that correspond to their political affiliation.

To tease out the answers to these questions I use multiple methods, including an experiment and an observational study, to isolate the interactions between individuals and blogs. Findings from the study suggest mixed support for my hypotheses. On the one hand they suggest that people may in fact seek blogs that align to their own political ideologies. Further, these finding holds true even when people select between partisan and credible blogs. However, additional findings suggest that blogs may have little to no direct impact on the individuals who read them.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

blog (239), polit (192), credibl (90), inform (76), use (56), peopl (53), particip (53), select (42), 1 (38), frame (37), one (32), two (32), partisan (31), ideolog (30), studi (29), conserv (29), liber (28), high (27), sourc (27), level (26), differ (25),

Author's Keywords:

blog, blogs, internet, self-selection, new media
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Name: Midwest Political Science Association
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http://www.indiana.edu/~mpsa/


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MLA Citation:

Sheagley, Geoffrey. "Blogs as Information Sources: The Impact of Source Credibility and Partisan Affiliation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, IL, Apr 12, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p199102_index.html>

APA Citation:

Sheagley, G. D. , 2007-04-12 "Blogs as Information Sources: The Impact of Source Credibility and Partisan Affiliation" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Palmer House Hotel, Chicago, IL Online <PDF>. 2013-12-16 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p199102_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: One of the fastest growing sources of political news, blogs have the potential to impact how political discourse occurs in the United States. The theory of the marketplace of ideas suggests that blogs, because they contain new information from many different sources, have the potential to substantially change American political discourse. Simply put, they may be playing an increasingly important role in American politics. The role of blogs is especially important given recent discussions between scholars and pundits regarding increasing party polarization in the electorate. At the same time, Sunstein’s (2001), among others, work on e-politics suggests that blogs may also contribute to polarization and be bad for democracy

Unfortunately most scholarly work in this area (among others Taber et al. 2001; Taber 2003, Mutz 1998) focuses on traditional media sources, not on the Internet generally or blogs specifically. The work that does pertain to blogs, namely Drezner and Farrell (2004), focuses on blogs’ power to agenda-set. Given the rapid increase in blog use and their apparent dissimilarity to tradition forms of media, it is also important to study the individual-level impact blogs may have on their readers.

Druckman (2001) shows the impact of source credibility on framing effects. Taber et al. (2001) show that individuals with strong partisan affiliation and/or prior beliefs on a topic will practice self-selection. Fried (1997) demonstrates that individuals who rely on non-traditional media sources tend to practice self-selection more than those who rely on mainstream media. Given the highly partisan nature of political blogs and their user created content it is important to study the interactions between blogs, specifically their partisan affiliation and credibility, and the people who read them. Given previous research I hypothesize that individuals who read credible blogs will be show evidence of framing effects while people who read non-credible blogs will not. Further, I predict that people will seek out credible blogs, but that when given the opportunity, i.e. a choice between credible and partisan, they will practice self-selection and seek blogs that correspond to their political affiliation.

To tease out the answers to these questions I use multiple methods, including an experiment and an observational study, to isolate the interactions between individuals and blogs. Findings from the study suggest mixed support for my hypotheses. On the one hand they suggest that people may in fact seek blogs that align to their own political ideologies. Further, these finding holds true even when people select between partisan and credible blogs. However, additional findings suggest that blogs may have little to no direct impact on the individuals who read them.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 24
Word count: 7754
Text sample:
*Blogs as Information Sources: The Impact of Source Credibility and Partisan Affiliation Geoffrey Sheagley University of Minnesota Morris shea0105@morris.umn.edu *This project was supported by the University of Minnesota's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. To be presented at the 2007 Midwest Political Science Association. I am grateful to Angela Bos and Paula O’Loughlin for their assistance with this project. I would also like to thank Jamie Druckman for allowing me to use his research design and some of his stimulus materials.
Influence How Perceptions of Mass Collections Affect Political Attitudes. New York New York Cambridge University Press Sunstein Cass. (2001). Republic.com Princeton New Jersey Princeton University Press Taber Charles S. (2003). Information Processing and Public Opinion. In Sears Huddy and Jervis (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Taber Charles Milton Lodge and Jill Glathar. (2001). The Motivated Construction of Political Judgments. In James H. Kuklinski. (Ed). Citizens and Politics: Perspectives from Political Psychology. New York: Cambridge


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