Previous studies show that individual political interest is an antecedent of news media exposure, particularly of exposure to differing views. Nevertheless, little is known about this effect from a comparative perspective: How do media institutions affect the relationship between political interest and exposure to cross-cutting viewpoints? One institutional feature that varies between countries is the ownership of broadcast media. This study investigates the extent to which the relative dominance of public service broadcasting alters the relationship between political interest and non-like-minded, or cross-cutting, news media exposure across 27 European Union countries. The analyses employ survey data from 27,079 individuals and media content from 48,983 news stories. The results confirm that the extent to which political interest contributes to cross-cutting exposure is contingent on the strength of public service broadcasting. The stronger the broadcaster, the smaller the gaps between the most and least politically engaged individuals.
Objective Studies show that public service broadcasters narrow knowledge gaps between politically interested and disinterested because such contexts encourage incidental learning. This reasoning, however, fails to explain why gendered knowledge differences persist in environments that equalize learning. Using stereotype threat theory, I argue that news content emits symbolic gender cues that encourage or discourage women to become politically informed. Methods Employing European Election Study 2009 voter data (N = 27,000), and multilingual news content analyses from 27 E.U. member states, I test whether more egalitarian representation of women as newsmakers correlates with narrower gaps between men and women. Results Aggregate and multilevel models show that greater representation of women as newsmakers correlates with smaller gaps in news exposure and political knowledge. Analyses also consider competing explanations such as women's electoral representation, education, labor force participation, and knowledge item guessing rates. Conclusion Findings support the theoretical expectations regarding symbolic cues and knowledge gaps.
This article offers a new approach to studying sex differences in responses to negative news, using real-time physiological responses as opposed to self-reports. Measurements of skin conductance and heart rate are used to examine whether there are differences in the extent to which women and men are aroused by and attentive to negative news stories. Like experiments that have relied on post-exposure self-reports, we detect no sex differences in arousal in response to negative news stories. However, in contrast to those experiments, we find indications that women are more attentive than men to negative news content. We consider possible reasons for this difference in findings. We also discuss neuro-psychological studies that are consistent with our finding of greater attentiveness on the part of women to negative stimuli. Finally, we consider the relationship between our work and evidence in the literature that women consume less news than men.