Journal article

A Matter of Context : A Comparative Study of Media Environments and News Consumption Gaps in Europe


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Publication Details

Subtitle: A Comparative Study of Media Environments and News Consumption Gaps in Europe

Author list: Shehata, Adam;Strömbäck, Jesper

Publisher: Routledge

Place: London

Publication year: 2011

Start page: 110

End page: 134

Number of pages: 25

ISSN: 1058-4609



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Research has shown that individual-level characteristics such as socioeconomic status and political interest are becoming more important as predictors of news consumption in a rapidly changing media environment. Despite this general trend, this article argues that the importance of individual-level predictors of news consumption varies between national media environments. We use extensive survey data from 16 European countries and multilevel modeling in order to investigate both contextual-level as well as cross-level effects on news consumption.

The results show that media environment characteristics have additional effects on news consumption beyond the effects of individual-level characteristics such as education and political interest, but also moderating impacts on these individual-level predictors of news consumption. More specifically, national media environments characterized by higher levels of newspaper-centrism are related to smaller gaps in newspaper reading between those with high and low levels of education and political interest. Lower degrees of newspaper-centrism is, on the other hand, related to a weaker “lower class bias” of television news and larger gaps in news consumption between those with and without high political interest. These findings are discussed in light of previous research on news consumption, knowledge- and participation gaps as well as cross-national comparative research.


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