Media Reach, Media Influence? the Effects of Local, National, and Internet News on Public Opinion Inferences

These two experiments compare perceptions of local, national, and Internet news articles on two U.S. environmental policy issues: oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and ratification of the Kyoto treaty on global warming. Of interest were the potential effects of perceived article reach and slant on estimates of public support for different policy alternatives. While perceived slant proved to be a fairly robust predictor of public opinion, estimates, support for an effect of perceived reach was mixed. Deconstructing perceived media reach into access and exposure assumptions should produce an opinion inference model that is more sensitive to the differing influences of local national, and Internet news as consumption patterns evolve.