Which Came First, The Extremist Chicken Or The Media Egg?

from the new-views dept

The interrelationship between political extremism and media consumption is one of those topics that everyone has opinion on, but no one really understands. Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering that the question itself involves the nature of opinions. A new study by the University of Missouri’s journalism school tries to shed light on this issue, looking at which forms of media are the most polarizing and concluding that radio listeners are most likely to have extreme views and newspaper readers are least likely. Internet news consumers are somewhere toward the less-extreme side of the equation as well. As the E-Media Tidbits item suggests, this could mean that people who get their news from radical radio personalities are prone to developing similar viewpoints, while the more balanced info presented in newspapers (and the sea of info on the internet) tempers that tendency. But we wonder whether it works the other way around: People with extreme ideas gravitate toward the media that support them, while people more open to various viewpoints will seek out media that lets them collect more information. Of course, there’s a raft of partisan blather online too, and extremists sometimes take in opposing views simply to trash them. But that’s probably a loud minority, rather than the silent info-gathering majority.

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Comments on “Which Came First, The Extremist Chicken Or The Media Egg?”

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dorpus says:

Based on which countries?

Sounds like they only used the US as a data point? Political extremism in South Korea has increased with internet usage. Previously, it was unthinkable that people would riot on the street over allegations that English teachers are having sex with local women. However, Koreans got whipped up into a frenzy after a web site written by an English teacher showed how to seduce Korean women. Thus, a huge anti-foreigner demonstration occurred in Seoul, with young internet-using people leading the charge that all foreigners should be driven out of Korea.

The recent “2005 Japan-Korea Year of Friendship”, organized by both governments, also ended on a sour note because internet extremists in both countries preyed on the opportunity to worsen relations instead. Internet-organized activists burned themselves alive, sent death threats to the Japanese ambassador in Korea, cut their own fingers off, and schools told children to draw pictures of the other country being blown up. Internet hacktivists also shut down government web sites and spread viruses. The internet has invented various new, creative racist terms to describe the other country, and every single crime committed by a foreigner is meticulously reported on the internet, whereas traditional media downplayed it. The internet has become an organizing ground for people who oppose multicultural education in schools, while in the offline world, people used to passively accept whatever schools told them. The internet regularly publishes lists of “traitors” who are sympathetic to the other country, calling for violence and death threats.

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