A new study suggests that viewers worldwide turn to particular broadcasters to affirm — rather than inform — their opinions. It’s a notion familiar to those dismayed by the paths blazed by cable news networks FOX and MSNBC — although the study finds one (perhaps unlikely) network may actually foster greater intellectual openness.
The study in the December issue of Media, War & Conflict by Shawn Powers, a fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and Mohammed el-Nawawy, an assistant professor in the department of communication at Queens University of Charlotte, found that the longer viewers had been watching Al Jazeera English, the less dogmatic they were in their opinions and therefore more open to considering alternative and clashing opinions.
Powers and el-Nawawy show that global media consumers tuned in to international news media that they thought would further substantiate their opinions about U.S. policies and culture, and provide them with information on the international issues that they deemed most important. The study found a strong relationship between the participants’ attitudes toward U.S. policy and culture and their choice of broadcaster. Those who were dependent on BBC World and especially CNNI were overall more supportive of U.S. foreign policy.
But researchers found that the longer participants had been watching AJE, the less dogmatic they were in their thinking, as measured by a survey evaluating dependence on particular networks and support for U.S. policies. This is not to say that AJE viewers were not affected by the opinions promoted by the network: The more frequently participants tuned into AJE, the less supportive they were of the U.S. policy toward the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the more critical they became of U.S. policy in Iraq.
You should follow me on Twitter here or subscribe to this blog’s feed. If you’re a regular reader please support the blog by doing your book and movie shopping at the store. You’ll find all my recommendations there. Here are the site’s most popular posts of all time.