Polarisation and the news media in Europe

07-03-2019

• Across Europe there is as yet little evidence to support the idea that increased exposure to news featuring like-minded or opposing views leads to the widespread polarisation of attitudes. Though some studies have found that both can strengthen the attitudes of a minority who already hold strong views. • Most studies of news use on social media have failed to find evidence of echo chambers and/or filter bubbles, where people are over-exposed to like-minded views. Some studies even find evidence that it increases the likelihood of exposure to opposing views. • The extent to which people self-select news sources in Europe based on their political preferences, as well as the extent to which news outlets produce partisan coverage, still varies greatly by country. • In addition to differences between European countries, comparative research often tends to show that the US has much higher levels of partisan news consumption and polarisation, making it difficult to generalise from these findings. • There are large gaps in our understanding of the relationship between the news media and polarisation, particularly outside of Western and Northern Europe, and particularly concerning our knowledge of new, more partisan digital-born news sources.

• Across Europe there is as yet little evidence to support the idea that increased exposure to news featuring like-minded or opposing views leads to the widespread polarisation of attitudes. Though some studies have found that both can strengthen the attitudes of a minority who already hold strong views. • Most studies of news use on social media have failed to find evidence of echo chambers and/or filter bubbles, where people are over-exposed to like-minded views. Some studies even find evidence that it increases the likelihood of exposure to opposing views. • The extent to which people self-select news sources in Europe based on their political preferences, as well as the extent to which news outlets produce partisan coverage, still varies greatly by country. • In addition to differences between European countries, comparative research often tends to show that the US has much higher levels of partisan news consumption and polarisation, making it difficult to generalise from these findings. • There are large gaps in our understanding of the relationship between the news media and polarisation, particularly outside of Western and Northern Europe, and particularly concerning our knowledge of new, more partisan digital-born news sources.