Previous research on new media has largely focused on the potential media effects of alternative news sources on their viewers. The effects of these studies have been limited, however, to the narrow audiences targeted by the increasingly polarizing alternative news sources. The advent and popularization of social networks has provided a reason to suspect that, for the first time, alternative news sources are making their way to the mainstream general public. In this study, I examine a new political and media environment that encourages the interaction between the politically inattentive public and polarized and alternative news sources – a link that contains numerous implications of previously inapplicable studies. I elaborate on previous literature pertaining to social networking’s capacity to operate as both a social networking vehicle and as a platform for further political debate by incorporating previous research that suggests an inherent polarization in alternative news sources with other studies that have highlighted the majority of society’s political inattentiveness. The results of my study suggest that Twitter users – the majority of them being politically inattentive – are more likely to be exposed to polarizing alternative news sources as opposed to mainstream news coverage when seeking out issue-based news items. By discovering a previously undetected link between polarized alternative news sources and the politically inattentive, this paper opens the door for future studies to study the effects of polarized reportage on the politically inattentive and the relationship between social networking and the traditional mainstream media.
"Twitter: a Platform for Political Discourse or Social Networking,"
Vol. 5, Article 11.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/globaltides/vol5/iss1/11