Get access

Televised Exposure to Politics: New Measures for a Fragmented Media Environment

Authors


  • We are grateful to the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania for enabling the collection of data used in this study. We would also like to thank the editors of the American Journal of Political Science for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Susanna Dilliplane is George Gerbner Postdoctoral Fellow, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (sdilliplane@asc.upenn.edu). Seth K. Goldman is George Gerbner Postdoctoral Fellow, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104 (sgoldman@asc.upenn.edu). Diana C. Mutz is Professor of Political Science and Communication, Department of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania, 208 S. 37th Street, Room 217, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215 (dmutz@asc.upenn.edu).

Abstract

For many research purposes, scholars need reliable and valid survey measures of the extent to which people have been exposed to various kinds of political content in mass media. Nonetheless, good measures of media exposure, and of exposure to political television in particular, have proven elusive. Increasingly fragmented audiences for political television have only made this problem more severe. To address these concerns, we propose a new way of measuring exposure to political television and evaluate its reliability and predictive validity using three waves of nationally representative panel data collected during the 2008 presidential campaign. We find that people can reliably report the specific television programs they watch regularly, and that these measures predict change over time in knowledge of candidate issue positions, a much higher standard of predictive validity than any other measure has met to date.

Ancillary