Preoccupation with online partisan news outlets may result in distrust of mass media

Consuming online partisan news outlets may result in an overall distrust of mass media, a new study in PNAS finds.

Headed by Princeton University and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, researchers instructed a number of online participants to adjust their default browser homepage to the left-leaning news outlet Huff Post or the conservative site Fox News, during the 2018 US midterm elections.

According to researchers, as the internet users went about with their normal daily routine, their internet data and social media posts were collected to analyze.

Following eight weeks of consuming either the HuffPost or Fox News, the participants began to demonstrate a decrease in trust in the media. The negative impact on the media was evident even nearly one year later.

From the findings: “Past studies have shown links between exposure to partisan news and polarization, but the driver behind this has been up for debate.”

“Our work adds a piece to this puzzle, showing that it’s difficult for people to be persuaded by competing media outlets during an election campaign. That said, longer time spent on these sites does lead to a growing distrust in the news,” the authors determined.

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