Nanyang Technological University, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information

Project Description

Effects of Reach On the Hostile Media Effect

Project Abstract

The hostile media perception describes the tendency for partisans, people who have strong opinions or are highly involved in an issue, to regard neutral news coverage of the issue as biased against their own point of view (Vallone, Ross & Lepper, 1985). Previous research by Gunther and Schmitt (2004) which compared media effects between mediated and non-mediated content has suggested that the hostile media perception is unique to only the mass media, and the authors have alluded this phenomenon to the high reach condition the mass media presents.
While existing research has clearly mapped out how the number of people reached by the media contributed to the hostile media effect, it has not taken into consideration other possible contributing factors to the hostile media effect such as the different kinds of people perceived to make up the audience. For our study, we identify two dimensions of reach: quantity and quality. Quantity refers to the perception of the audience size, while quality differentiates between the different kinds of people perceived to be receiving the message. Quality of reach moves away from examining the audience as an undifferentiated mass, and is especially important in the conceptualization of the mass audience in the new media. Webster and Phelan (1997) suggested that with the introduction of new media, the mass audience will become increasingly fragmented into smaller subsets and polarized due to the increase of media-related choices and the structural characteristics of new media.
Using Meirick (2004)�s concept of topic relevant dimensions to understand how different groups of people can respond to the same message differently, we seek to investigate if the extent of the hostile media effect is mediated not only by the perceived quantity, but also by the quality of reach of the message. Our study investigates if partisans form hostile media perceptions when confronted with articles on Singaporean politics on the weblogs platform, taking into account the tendency for the audience of weblogs to be fragmented and polarized due to the structural characteristics of the medium.

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