Gruszczynski study: Public agenda becoming increasingly fragmented
As American news media have become more fragmented and partisan due to internet readership, so too have Americans’ perceptions of which issues are most important, according to a study published by assistant professor Mike Gruszczynski.
“Evidence of Partisan Agenda Fragmentation in the American Public, 1959-2015” appears in Public Opinion Quarterly. While researchers have studied agenda fragmentation among media for decades, Gruszczynski’s is the first large-scale inquiry into whether agenda fragmentation is occurring among the public.
Using data from Gallup’s “Most Important Problem” polls between 1959 and 2015, Gruszczynski compared the correlation between individuals’ party affiliation and their perceptions of the most important problem facing the country.
With exceptions of some major, unifying issues (an economic recession or terrorist attack, for example), Gruszczynski found that as news consumption increasingly shifted to the internet — where consumers can easily tune out information that doesn’t reinforce their views — Americans’ perceptions of the most important issues split further along party lines.