Overwhelmed and Underinformed? How Americans Keep Up with Current Events in the Age of Social Media (WP-11-02)
Eszter Hargittai, W. Russell Neuman, and Olivia Curry
This working paper reports on a study of new media adopters’ perceptions of—and reactions to—the shift from push broadcasting and headlines to the pull dynamics of online search. From a series of focus groups with adults from around the United States, the researchers document three dominant themes: First, most feel empowered and enthusiastic, not overloaded. Second, evolving forms of social networking represent a new manifestation of the two-step flow of communication. Third, although critical of partisan “yellers” in the media, individuals do not report cocooning with the like-minded—nor avoiding the voices of those with whom they disagree. The three co-authors also find that skills in using digital media do matter when it comes to people’s attitudes and uses of the new opportunities afforded by them.