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News Media, Knowledge, and Political Interest: Evidence of a Dual Role From a Field Experiment


Journal of Communication

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Political knowledge and political interest are generally positively influenced by news media exposure. Yet, at the same time, knowledge and interest are among the most important predictors of news media exposure in the first place. We conduct a field experiment (N = 393) as a test of this dual function of knowledge and interest in a realistic news media choice setting. We examine whether preexisting interest and knowledge predict which individuals can be encouraged to read an unfamiliar information‐rich newspaper, and if using this newspaper, in turn, has effects on interest and knowledge. Results show that interest and knowledge are predictors of compliance in the experiment. While political knowledge shows some response to the additional news exposure, interest remains stable.