Partisan news outlets, Sandy to affect polling, Election Day


Raveena Bhalara

Natalie Stroud, author of “Niche News and Campaign 2012”, discussed selective exposure in nightly news programs as part of the Senior Fellows lecture series Monday. Selective exposure is the the tendency for people to remain partial to news programs that are in their partisan group.

Taylor Hampton

The public chooses outlets for new information that align with their own political ideology despite the diversity of choices, according to a lecture on campus Monday.

Natalie Stroud, author of “Niche News and Campaign 2012,” which won the 2012 outstanding book award from the International Communication Association, discussed the impact of expanding news options in a lecture hosted by Senior Fellows, an honors program for UT communication students. She said the public has opted out of national nightly news programs and is consuming news based on selective exposure.

“The public is inspired and taught to use news based on partisanship,” Stroud said.

She said people choose the news outlet that is most similar to their own political identity because it is difficult to perceive news as biased if it supports a person’s beliefs. Stroud said the public perceives nonpartisan news as biased

She said partisan news increases participation in politics, but is polarizing because contested issues are framed differently among conservatives and liberals.

“The people deciding elections are polarized, and people who are moderate are opting out,” Stroud said.

She said the language used in news coverage affects how consumers view an issue. She said she is unsure of Superstorm Sandy’s impact on this year’s election because so many people participate in early voting, which has been underway in most states for a week. Sandy made landfall Monday.

Both candidates put their campaigns on hold Monday. Ashley Muddiman, communication studies graduate student, said the candidates’ responses to the hurricane could be important and that they will be evaluated by both conservative and liberal outlets. Romney used campaign buses to bring relief supplies to shelters Monday, and President Obama addressed the nation and declared a state of emergency for the areas hit by the hurricane.

“Even if he does his job, the right-leaning outlets will criticize that he is politicizing,” Muddiman said.

Josh Scacco, communication studies graduate student, said the full effect the storm will have on the election will not be seen until Election Day. Leading up to Election Day, Scacco said the storm’s effects will prevent the gathering of sufficient data.

“The national public opinion polls will not be accurate because of the power outages,” Scacco said.

He said getting people to polls in critical states for the candidates could be difficult because of obstacles presented by the weather.

On Monday, 1,046 people participated in early voting at the Flawn Academic Center, an early voting location on campus. So far, 6,300 people have voted at the FAC for this election.

Printed on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 as: Public picky with news outlets, author says