Maybe We Aren’t All Extremists After All
September 10, 2012 by Sam Rolley
A new study indicates that one of the reasons many Americans consider extreme leftism or extreme right wing views the only options for political ideology is sensationalized news media.
It is noted often by American political commentators and scholars that politics in the United States have become more polarized than ever before, but a new study in Journalism & Mass Communications indicates that this may not be true.
The study concedes that, because of shock value, groups espousing far-left or far-right ideas receive much more airtime in American news media than political moderates or those with values that breach the political divide.
“Extremes are more intuitively novel, entertaining, and colorful, representing another common news value,” write the authors of the study, Michael McCluskey and Young Mie Kim. “Moderate voices may be more difficult to portray as exciting than extreme voices.”
The authors examined 208 political advocacy groups representing a range of political ideologies as they were described in 118 newspapers. They found that groups with more leftist or rightist extreme opinions on political issues got more mentions in larger newspapers, appeared closer to the top of articles and were mentioned more often.
The authors contend, “More people had the opportunity to note those groups, fueling perceptions of those groups as important or legitimate.”