Niche News: The Politics of News Choice

Niche News: The Politics of News Choice

Niche News: The Politics of News Choice

Niche News: The Politics of News Choice


Fox News, MSNBC,The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,The Rush Limbaugh Show, National Public Radio--with so many options, where do people turn for news? In Niche News, Natalie Stroud investigates how people navigate these choices and the political implications that their choice ultimately entails. By combining an analysis of the various news formats that citizens rely on with innovative surveys and experiments, she offers the most comprehensive look to date at the extent to which partisanship influences our media selections. At the heart of Niche News is the concept of "partisan selective exposure," a behavior that leads individuals to select news sources that match their own views. This phenomenon helps explain the political forces at work behind media consumption. Just as importantly, she finds that selective exposure also influences how average citizens engage with politics in general. On one hand, citizens may become increasingly divided as a result of using media that coheres with their political beliefs; on the other hand, partisan selective exposure may encourage participation. Ultimately, Stroud reveals just how intimately connected the mainstream media and the world of politics really are, a conclusion with significant implications for the practice of American democracy.


Interviews with former presidents tend to be routine and respectful. This was far from the case on September 24, 2006.

It was an important interview for Fox News Sunday’s host Chris Wallace. Ratings for the program had not been stellar. Nielsen ratings consistently showed the program in fourth place among the four main Sunday morning talk shows (NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week). An interview with former president Bill Clinton, however, represented an opportunity to make some headway.

Wallace had interviewed Clinton on Fox News Sunday before. In a joint appearance with fellow former president George H. W. Bush on February 20,2005, Clinton discussed relief efforts for the massive tsunami in Asia. The interview was typical; Clinton and Bush were cordial and conveyed a strong sense of bipartisanship. The program generated modest interest but failed to produce a noteworthy bump in the program’s ratings.

But this Clinton interview would be different. Wallace would interview Clinton one on one and the interview stipulations gave Wallace quite a bit of latitude in the questions he could ask. Although half of the questions would be about Clinton’s efforts to tackle global problems, the other half were left to the discretion of Fox News. And Wallace planned to use this freedom; he intended to ask Clinton several probing questions about how Clinton had handled the threat of terrorism duringhis presidency.

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