Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Media Intake - Analyzed

As usual, delivers.

There's been a lot of doomsaying lately about the effect of the internet on American politics. According to the doomsayers, Americans used to get most of their news from a single source, like Walter Cronkite. Now, in the internet age, people choose their news source. And because people are people, they tend to choose news sources that reinforce their beliefs. Thus, liberals go to liberal websites, and conservatives go to conservative websites, and the American political consciousness is irrevocably fragmented, until different political sects are living in totally different worlds.

Pretty scary, right? The good news is, that doesn't appear to be happening - at least not yet. A new study by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse Shapiro of the University of Chicago concludes that,

Many people go to sites whose readers don't share their politics. To use their terminology, they found a low degree of "media isolation" among Web surfers compared with the political isolation most Americans experience in their daily lives. Stacked against the networks in which we work, live, and socialize, the network we increasingly use to get our news—which is to say, the one you are using right now—is relatively integrated.

Of course, if that integrated news network serves to promote an imperialist neoliberal American hegemony, that might not be such a good thing. (I tell ya, once the critical theory gets in you, you can't get it out.)

In any case, if you'd like to see how "isolated" your news intake is, has devised a test to tell you. The test examines the news sites you visit, gives you the political breakdown of their readership, and gives you your own an index of political isolation.

My results?

Of the news sites I visit, an average of 52% of the readership is conservative, and 48% is liberal. (Moderates and independents are excluded from the data). Since more Americans identify as conservatives than as liberal, that result puts my news intake at 19 points to the left of the average reader.


The article also gives you a political breakdown of the readership of the most-visited political websites, all in a handy visual display. Yahoo! News is the biggest internet news source, with 55% conservative readers and 45% liberal readers. The smallest? Bill O'Reilly's website. 100% conservative.


  1. Do you have the link to that quiz? I wanted to take it, but I couldn't find it.

  2. It's at the article I linked to:
    Just click "profile me" about halfway down the screen.