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Credibility or convenience? Political information choices in a media-saturated environment.

It is frequently said that we live in a media-saturated society. Certainly, few would argue that the range of information sources available to Australian citizens today is greater than at any previous time in history. Every day, people make decisions about which information they should pay attention to, ignore and avoid. The daily information choices citizens make with regard to political information are of particular interest in Australia, where voting in elections is compulsory. Under such conditions, exclusive use of poor-quality political reporting may result in uninformed or misinformed voting decisions, which have implications for the effectiveness of the democracy.

In most modern liberal democracies, the mass media are viewed as central to the dissemination of political information (Jones, 2005; Ward, 2006). However, this may be changing due to the rapid and ongoing development of new digital communication technologies. Web 2.0 capabilities in particular are blurring traditional distinctions with regard to the roles of creator, consumer and distributor of media and information products (Goggin, 2010). Technological convergence also increases the fluidity with which media consumption may occur, with media products available through multiple mechanisms (e.g. television, mobile phone, computer). This can be expected to modify media habits, as previously rigidly scheduled media products are now effectively available at virtually any time and place. In such an environment, the question of what information choices citizens make, and why, becomes vital (Couldry, 2002).

Research problem and approach

This article is drawn from a larger doctoral project (Moody, 2011), which was conceived around the over-arching research problem of how personal characteristics influence the information choices of Australians, with regard to socio-political information.

The term 'socio-political' is used in a fairly broad way in the present study, based around the OED definition of 'political': '[r]elating to or concerned with public life and affairs as involving questions of authority and government; relating to or concerned with the theory or practice of politics' [my italics] (Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2007). Thus the term refers to much more than simply information about the workings of government or elections. This approach has similarities with the 'public world' versus 'private world' distinction, where 'public' refers to 'things or issues which are regarded as being of shared concern, rather than of purely private concern' (Couldry et al., 2006: 4). Such a distinction is not objective and fixed, but is deliberately left open to interpretation by the individual.

While the bulk of media audience studies typically have treated media use as a single variable (Hasebrink and Popp, 2006), the current study takes a more holistic approach. In recognition of the increasingly complex information environment, this study considers both media (e.g. television, newspapers, radio) and non-news media (e.g. public speaking events, social networking sites, interpersonal communication) information sources. The study also employs information repertoires to provide a more authentic picture of how individuals combine information sources to arrive at distinct patterns of information use (Hasebrink and Popp, 2006).

The project has two components. First, it is concerned with whether and in what ways a range of personal characteristics (media scepticism, need for cognition, media gratifications and political interest) influence people's information decisions. These specific personal characteristics were selected to allow comparison with, and extension of, a previous US study by Tsfati (2002), who considered the impact of media scepticism and the need for cognition on news media use. The current study extended the work of Tsfati by applying these measures in a different geographical context (Australia), and through the addition of media gratifications sought as a further possible motivation for information source selection. Political interest was also added because of the specifically political subject-matter of the current study. Second, the study is concerned with the unique sets of information sources (information repertoires and media diets) that result from the information choices made by each individual. Each of these constructs is introduced below.

Media scepticism

Media scepticism is defined as 'a subjective feeling of alienation and mistrust toward the mainstream news media' (Tsfati, 2002: 35). It relates to the subjective opinion the audience member holds with regard to the mainstream media as a whole, rather than to any particular media source (Tsfati, 2003; Tsfati and Cappella, 2003). Media scepticism is relevant to information choice research because trustworthiness is believed to be an important factor when selecting an information source (Chen and Hernon, 1982; Hertzum et al., 2002). Previous studies have found media scepticism to be associated with a reduction in the use of mainstream media in US samples, and with increased use of non-mainstream media in both US and Israeli samples (Tsfati and Cappella, 2003; Tsfati and Peri, 2006).

Need for cognition

Need for cognition (NFC) emerged in the psychology literature of the 1950s, and is defined as 'a tendency to engage in and enjoy thinking' (Cacioppo and Petty, 1982: 116). Need for cognition has strong links to human information behaviour. Experimental research has found that individuals with high NFC seek a diversity of information sources when solving problems (Nair and Ramnarayan, 2000). In everyday life information seeking, individuals with high NFC are more likely to seek information to help them with everyday activities than individuals with low NFC (Cacioppo et al., 1996). People with high NFC also show a preference for complex, issue-oriented media content, rather than superficial reporting (Perse, 2001).

Media gratifications sought

Media gratifications sought emerges from the uses and gratifications (U&G) tradition. It is relevant to human information behaviour research because it is concerned with the motivations people have for using communications (Krcmar and Strizhakova, 2009). Uses and gratifications researchers generally admit that individual audience members will vary in their degree of purposive and selective media use (Rothenberg, 2004). However, the 'pull' nature of new media such as the internet, which typically requires the conscious selection of a website and/or the formulation of a search term, is likely to mean new media users in particular are more purposeful (Kaye and Johnson, 2006), and have a greater conscious awareness of their media use goals (Ancu and Cozma, 2009).

The current project explores three gratifications sought dimensions--surveillance, entertainment and escape which have been found to have relevance for both traditional media and internet use (e.g. Kaye and Johnson, 2002; Lin et al., 2003). Surveillance gratifications are concerned with orienting oneself within one's environment, and therefore have an information focus that typically is associated with news media use and political websites and blogs (Kaye, 2005; Kaye and Johnson, 2006; Rubin, 1984; Wenner, 1985). Entertainment and escape gratifications are less concerned with informational content, and more with the process of diversion, which is typically associated with more general media use (Rubin, 1984; Wenner, 1985).

Political interest

Interest in a topic typically leads to greater information seeking about that topic (Gantz et al., 1991; Reagan, 1996). In Norway, high levels of political interest have been found to be associated with increased use of television, radio, online newspapers and political party websites during an election campaign (Karlsen, 2010). In the United States, politically interested citizens use the internet to obtain political information that is not available in the traditional media (Howard, 2005), and to fact-check the information reported in the mainstream media (Kaye, 2005; Kaye and Johnson, 2006). In the United Kingdom, politically interested citizens have reported subscribing to UK political party e-newsletters in order to receive direct, unmediated information from the parties (Jackson and Lilleker, 2007). Similarly, Swedish political activists aged sixteen to twenty use the internet to seek out political information that they can be confident has not been distorted by the media-for example, from political party and activist group websites--because the media 'hardly cover their issues and when they finally do they tend to get them all wrong' (Dahlgren and Olsson, 2005: 15).

Information usage patterns

Individuals tend to return again and again to the same media outlets (Gantz et al., 1991; McGuire, 1974), resulting in a distinct media usage pattern for any given individual, their 'information repertoire' (Reagan, 1996). Reagan found that individuals have distinct information repertoires for specific topics, and that the size of these repertoires (in terms of number of sources used) increases as interest in a topic grows (1996). While each individual has a unique repertoire of socio-political information sources, to enable analysis, usage patterns must be identified. For this, two constructs are employed: 'socio-political information repertoires' and 'media diets'.

This project introduces the socio-political information repertoire (SPIR) construct, which refers to the range of resources individuals use to find out about socio-political issues. For the purposes of the present analysis, SPIRs are refined further according to format. For example, each respondent has a television repertoire, which reflects the degree of reliance on television as a political information source for that person, relative to other respondents. Similarly each respondent has a print media SPIR, radio SPIR, interuet SPIR and non-news media SPIR.

As defined in this study, non-news media information sources are distinguished from media sources according to their degree of content mediation and consumption costs. That is, media sources are more overtly mediated than non-news media sources, involving a professional information gatekeeper, such as an editor. This mediation may support journalistic integrity, such as when ensuring that fact-checking has been conducted. However, it may also be used to ensure that media content reflects the business or political interests of media proprietors, over and above fourth estate ideals (Herman and Chomsky, 1994; McNair, 2009), as echoed in the accuracy and bias concerns of politically interested audiences described previously.

In contrast, by my definition, 'non-news media information sources' do not routinely involve this type of deliberate and organised mediation. In making this assertion, I am in no way suggesting that non-news media sources are devoid of bias, nor am I suggesting that they are devoid of journalistic integrity. Rather, I am simply pointing to the reduced likelihood of mediation by a third party. Non-news media information sources offer the sender and receiver a more direct communication opportunity. For example, live public speaking events contain an element of spontaneity. Even if the prepared speech has been reviewed by sponsors, once the speaker stands at the podium, they may disseminate whatever information they want, within legal limits. Political party newsletters, on the other hand, while most likely written by the party's communication professionals, are not subject to fact-checking or bias-elimination by an independent source, and hence are not mediated in the sense implied here.

Furthermore, non-news media sources involve greater consumption costs than media sources. Seeking, obtaining and processing information requires resources such as money, time, energy and cognitive effort (Atkin, 1973), as well as opportunity costs (Pirolli and Card, 1999). Media products at- developed deliberately for ease of consumption (Atkin, 1973), with careful attention paid to factors such as language level and distribution processes. Non-news media sources, on the other hand, commonly require greater resource inputs on the part of the consumer. For example, e-newsletters involve the effort of identifying and subscribing to them, while public speaking events may be financially costly, attract opportunity costs, require the cognitive effort of interpreting predominantly auditory information in real time, and involve the physical effort of booking tickets and travelling to the event.

Using these distinctions, the following have been identified as non-news media information sources for the purposes of the current research project: social networking websites (e.g. MySpace, Facebook); direct communications with politicians/parties, charities or lobby groups; public speaking events (e.g. book launches, festivals); zines; interpersonal communication; active engagement with intemet search engines (e.g. conducting a Google search); books and documentaries. While books and documentaries generally have some form of editorial input, they are included here as non-news media sources because of the significant resources required for their use, particularly in terms of cognitive, financial and opportunity costs.

While an information repertoire is essentially a list, or count, of information sources used, a media diet goes further by providing a summary of the diet's relative composition with regard to some dichotomous characteristic. Considering dichotomous characteristics enables the researcher to measure media diets quantitatively, facilitating statistical analysis on the resulting diet score. Three media diet approaches are used in the present study. The first considers the relative reliance on mainstream versus non-mainstream media sources. Non-mainstream sources are defined as those that 'present themselves as alternatives to the mainstream media institutions' (Tsfati, 2002: 311). Information sources are therefore identified as non-mainstream if they have a stated commitment to non-mainstream or alternative information provision. By way of example, using this distinction, Indigenous radio station 4AAA (Murri Radio), Big Issue magazine, Crikey online news and the ABC television show Media Watch were identified as non-mainstream sources, while commercial radio station 4MMM, the Courier-Mail newspaper, BBC online news and 60 Minutes were identified as mainstream.

The second media diet considers the relative reliance on public service versus commercial media sources. This approach was developed specifically for the Australian media landscape. Australia has two public service broadcasters, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the multicultural Special Broadcasting Service, with each creating products in television, radio, online and print formats. Both public broadcasters differ from the commercial networks in having a stated commitment to the provision of quality information (ABC, 2006; SBS, 2002). It perhaps follows that both also have a reputation for higher quality journalism than is offered by their commercial competitors (Ang et al., 2006; Bean, 2005; Harrington, 2008).

The final media diet is concerned with the tabloid/broadsheet distinction. While this distinction is imprecise, nevertheless the terms generally are understood to convey a sense of credibility (broadsheet) versus untrustworthiness (tabloid) (Pieper, 2000). Experimental research has confirmed that the tabloid/broadsheet distinction plays a primary role in judgements regarding the credibility of media reports (Kaufman et al., 1999). In Australia, this distinction may have increased significance, because in the Australian media market, '"soft" infotainment has mostly displaced "hard" news on television' (Harrington, 2008: 272).

Project methodology

Data collection took place during March and April 2008, approximately four months after the 2007 Australian federal election. A multiple-contact postal survey was conducted, using a written questionnaire designed and administered following the Tailored Design Method (Dillman, 2007). The survey garnered 585 usable responses (39 per cent response rate), drawn from a probability sample of the Brisbane adult population (extracted from the Australian Electoral Roll). Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia, with a population of approximately two million. With regard to demographic composition, the sample matches the population from which it is drawn reasonably well, indicating a low likelihood of non-response error. The use of the probability sampling technique, the size of the sample and the lack of evidence for substantial non-response error enable the findings of the research to be generalised to the adult Brisbane population. The data were analysed using statistical analysis (primarily multiple linear regression), with the use of SPSS 16.0 software.

Information usage data were collected by asking respondents which, from a list of more than 120 individual information sources (e.g. television shows, websites, magazines), they 'usually used' to find about 'important socio-political issues', inviting a simple 'yes' or 'no' response for each information source. The approach of allowing individuals to define what is 'usual' for them in terms of media use, rather than specifying actual rates of use (e.g. read the newspaper every day, once a week, once a month) was chosen in order to reduce the risk of social desirability bias, as no 'acceptable' levels of use are suggested in the survey instrument. To enable meaningful analysis, the resulting data were then collapsed into media diet and SPIR variables, as described previously.

Political interest was measured using a four-point scale, in which respondents could indicate their level of interest in politics, selecting from 'none', 'not much', 'some' or 'a good deal'. The remaining personal characteristics described in the literature review were measured using established indexes, with identical five-point Likert response scales for each (strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, strongly agree). Media scepticism was measured using the eight-item Media Scepticism Scale (Tsfati, 2003), with minor alterations based on feedback from pre-testing. The scale included items such as: 'Thinking about the traditional media (newspapers, television and radio) in general, please tick whether you believe ...' 'the media can be trusted'; 'the media are accurate'. The scale achieved good internal consistency ([alpha] = .82). Following principal components analysis (PCA), one component was identified, explaining 56.4 per cent of the variance.

NFC was measured using the eighteen-item scale created by Cacioppo et al. (1984), with minor alterations. The index included items such as 'l prefer to deal with complex things rather than simple things'; 'I find satisfaction deliberating long and hard for hours'. The NFC Scale achieved very good internal consistency ([alpha] = .90). PCA revealed the presence of two factors with eigenvalues exceeding 1 (6.839 and 1.541); however, only the first factor was retained following examination of the screeplot. The retained factor explained 38 per cent of the variance, which is comparable to previous applications of the scale.

Gratifications sought were measured using a 22-item scale originally developed for a news and current events context (Vincent and Basil, 1997). Minor wording changes were made to make the items relevant to various media formats. The index included items such as: 'I pay attention to socio-political information in the media and on the Internet ...' 'to find out things I need to know about daily life'; 'because it's enjoyable'. PCA revealed the presence of four factors with eigenvalues exceeding 1 (7.276, 3.394, 1.144, 1.007); however, the screeplot and parallel analysis indicated a two-factor solution. Further examination of the rotated four-factor solution (Oblimin rotation) revealed that five items loaded strongly (above .4) on factor three. A three factor solution is also consistent with previous applications of this scale (see Vincent and Basil, 1997). The first three factors from the analysis were therefore used to develop sub-scales relating to entertainment, surveillance and escape gratifications. The three sub-scales had good internal consistency (Cronbach's alphas of .81, .85 and .85 respectively).

Multiple linear regression is a statistical technique that measures the ability of various independent variables to predict changes in a single dependent variable (Aron et al., 2009). Multiple linear regression allows the researcher to isolate the effect of key independent variables (e.g. media scepticism) from background variables such as age or gender. A series of regressions were conducted to assess the ability of the media scepticism, NFC, gratifications sought and political interest measures to predict each of the media diets and SPIRs. Each regression was controlled for the influence of age, gender, household income, education level, internet access, hours spent at work or study per week, and political partisanship.

Findings

Table 1 summarises the contributions of the key independent variables to each of the media diets and SPIRs examined. Control variables are omitted from the table for reasons of clarity and relevance. The valences of the beta values (provided in brackets after percentages) indicate the direction of association between the two variables.

Overall, the models examined explained between 6.5 and 24 per cent of the variation in information usage patterns. Looking at the key independent variables listed in Table 1, we can see that, where these variables make a significant contribution to variations in information usage patterns, the contribution is small, with only NFC contributing more than 3 per cent of the total variation (to the non-news media SPIR). Looking at Table 1 from the perspective of the dependent variables, we can see that most of the media diets/SPIRs are influenced by between zero and three key variables. The single exception is the non-news media SPIR. This SPIR is influenced by five of the six key variables (media scepticism, NFC, surveillance, entertainment and escape gratifications). The central difference between this repertoire and the others is that it is restricted to nonnews media information sources only, while all the other diets and SPIRs predominantly involve media sources. Thus there appears to be a difference in the way non-news media information sources and media sources are selected.

A closer consideration of the independent variables provides further insights. Three of the independent variables--media scepticism, NFC and surveillance gratifications--are overtly concerned with information quality. Media scepticism is concerned explicitly with information accuracy, reliability and credibility (Tsfati, 2002). NFC is concerned with an interest in the issue and content dimensions of news stories (Perse, 2001), rather than celebrity and scandal dimensions. Surveillance gratifications relate to obtaining reliable information by which to orient oneself in the world (Wenner, 1985). All three of these information quality-concerned variables impact on the non-news media SPIR, while the other media-oriented models each include no more than one quality-concerned independent variable. It appears then that non-news media information sources are sought out deliberately by people who are keenly concerned about the quality of their political information. When it comes to media sources, however, quality concerns are less of a driver for use.

Discussion

These findings indicate a fundamental difference in the way media sources and non-news media sources are used. The data show that non-news media information sources are chosen by people who are seeking accurate information with which to orient themselves to the world (surveillance gratifications), who enjoy thinking and prefer deep as opposed to shallow content (NFC), and who find the mainstream media to be lacking in credibility (media scepticism). Further, people who simply wish to be distracted from the real world (escape gratifications) use fewer non-news media sources. The link between information quality concerns and use of non-news media information sources indicates that purposeful information-seeking is associated in a primary way with use of non-news media sources.

In contrast, the media-focused diets and SPIRs have limited association with the information quality-focused variables, each influenced by no more than one of these variables. The minimal associations between information quality concerns and use of the media do not necessarily indicate that the media is not at all used for purposeful information-seeking. Rather, the findings imply that such information-seeking is not a primary driver for media use, at least not in a non-election context such as that of the present study. Instead, these findings are suggestive that media use has another primary purpose, and that political information acquisition may be a secondary driver or by-product of that primary purpose.

So what are Australians doing with regard to the news media? In the 2007 Australian Survey of Social Attitudes, 81 per cent of respondents claimed 'it's a regular part of my day to catch up with the news' (Phillips et al., 2008). Media habits in the past have been fairly predictable, due in large part to the regularity of the traditional news media cycle. For example, British research from the 1960s found most people read the same morning newspaper every day for many years (Butler and Stokes, 1969). Such previously predictable media habits have changed, however, and continue to change with the advent of new communication technologies. In Australia, regular (daily and weekly) use of newspapers and television news shows declined between 2003 and 2007, while regular use of the internet for news increased from 27 to 37 per cent of respondents in that time (Young, 2009). Lumby (1999) notes that some media habits still exist--for example: 'The evening news is ... a gateway into some rare downtime in our increasingly stressful lives.' (1999: 57) However, in a media-saturated society, information overload also takes its toll, with 49 per cent of Australians agreeing that they 'often feel that there's too much media, so [they] need to switch [it] off' (Phillips et al., 2008).

Australians want to keep up with current events, yet feel overwhelmed by the media. It is no wonder, then, that the customisability and flexibility of internet information sources increasingly appeals. The internet enables users to select what they wish to be informed about (international or local news, specific topics), how they wish to be informed (by RSS feed, SMS updates, email alerts) and how often (hourly, daily, weekly). As internet technologies continue to free us from fixed scheduling, by offering consistently updated news throughout the entire day, we can expect media habits to become less uniform. If the news production cycle no longer drives our media habits, other priorities will come to the fore. During focus groups commissioned by SBS, most respondents spoke of the seamless integration of the media into everyday life practices (Ang et al., 2006). News consumption thus becomes increasingly integrated into other activities, as expressed by a participant in the recent Australian study by Daniel et al. (2009: 17): '[Online news] pops up when I am on Instant Messenger so I can easily get to it while doing something I enjoy like talking to my friends.'

The increasingly varied and complex media use patterns that result from the everexpanding flexibility afforded by technological changes are reflected in the findings of the present study. News consumption may be a routine part of the day for most Australians, but not in uniform ways. Consistent motivation patterns for the consumption of specific media or media diets were difficult to identify in the current data. Use of non-news media information sources was, in contrast, associated meaningfully with specific informationseeking motivations (such as surveillance gratifications, media scepticism and NFC). This finding suggests that media use now occurs as a consequence of other everyday life practices, rather than as a deliberate information-seeking behaviour.

Implications: The importance of media literacy

The findings of the present study call into question the previously assumed centrality of trust to information choice. People regularly use media they do not trust to find out about politics. In a scenario where convenience is prioritised over credibility in information selection, the importance of media literacy is heightened. Media literacy is 'the ability to access, understand, evaluate and create media content' (European Commission, 2007). It enables citizens to understand the implicit ideologies, agendas and contexts of the media discourses they encounter (Andersen, 2006; Warnick, 2002).

If people are willing to use information sources they do not trust for democratically important topics such as politics, it is vital that people possess the skills to understand and evaluate the information with which they are presented. Media literacy must become a socially situated practice (Penman and Turnbull, 2007), which is applied routinely in everyday information encounters, not only during deliberate information-seeking events. Without the application of media literacy skills, a steady diet of 'junk' news media, which 'looks like news, is sold like news, but it is an unhealthy component of the news diet' (Turner, 1996: 41), may result in uninformed or misinformed voting decisions, which have implications for the effectiveness of our democracy.

Conclusion and recommendations

The aim of this research was to identify how a range of personal characteristics influence socio-political information choices. The research revealed that characteristics such as media scepticism, NFC, media gratifications and political interest actually have little bearing on information selection, particularly with regard to media products. It appears that the ubiquity of the media in contemporary Australian society largely makes deliberate informationseeking about politics redundant. Rather, it seems political information is encountered as a consequence of individuals' everyday life practices. This finding highlights the need for more authentic and holistic contexts for media research. It is insufficient to consider information choices in isolation. Future media research must take greater account of the broader social contexts and practices within which media-oriented behaviours occur.

To this end, a mixed-methods approach to investigating information choices is recommended for future research. Large-scale quantitative studies such as one presented here provide important insights into aggregate behaviours amongst large populations. However, qualitative approaches, such as interviewing and participant observation, will provide the additional rich data that will help us to better understand information choices in the context of everyday life practices. Qualitative approaches may enable media researchers to understand the information landscape as the audience experiences it, 'the way the multitude of fragmented media experiences and encounters in an average citizen's day fit together' (Harrington, 2009: 306). Understanding news media use in the context of everyday practices may provide greater insights into how the increasingly complex information environment influences citizens' understandings of, and relationships to, politics.

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Table 1: Summary of statistically significant regression findings (key
variables only)

                                 Percentage of variation in media
Media diet/ SPIR                 diet/SPIR explained uniquely by each
(percentage of variation         variable (beta value)
explamea by the model            Media         NFC
overall)                         scepticism

Mainstream/non-mainstream        1.1%          --
media diet                       (-.11 *)
[17.0%, F (18, 496) = 5.64 **]
Private/public media diet        0.6%          --
[22.2%, F (18, 496) = 7.86 **]
Tabloid/broadsheet media         --            --
diet
[23.8%, F (18, 496) = 8.59 **]
Internet SPIR                    --            --
[14.4%, F (18, 496) = 4.62 **]
Print media SPIR                 --            --
[14.9%, F (18, 496)=4.81 **]
Radio SPIR                       --            --
[6.5%, F (18, 496) = 1.92 *]
Television SPIR                  --            --
[18.3%, F (18, 496)=6.17 **]
Non-news media SPIR              0.7%          3.3%
[23.0%, F (18, 496) = 8.24 **]   (.09 *)       (.21 **)

Overall SPIR                     --            --
[24.0%, F (18, 496) = 8.71 **]

                                 Percentage of variation in media
                                 diet/SPIR explained uniquely by each
Media diet/ SPIR                 variable (beta value)
(percentage of variation
explamea by the model            Surveillance    Entertainment
overall)                         gratification   gratlficatlon

Mainstream/non-mainstream        --              --
media diet
[17.0%, F (18, 496) = 5.64 **]
Private/public media diet        --              --
[22.2%, F (18, 496) = 7.86 **]
Tabloid/broadsheet media         1.0%            --
diet                             (-.13 *)
[23.8%, F (18, 496) = 8.59 **]
Internet SPIR                    --              --
[14.4%, F (18, 496) = 4.62 **]
Print media SPIR                 --              0.7% (.12 *)
[14.9%, F (18, 496)=4.81 **]
Radio SPIR                       --              --
[6.5%, F (18, 496) = 1.92 *]
Television SPIR                  1.3% (.14 **)   --
[18.3%, F (18, 496)=6.17 **]
Non-news media SPIR              0.7% (.11 *)    1.0% (.15 *)
[23.0%, F (18, 496) = 8.24 **]

Overall SPIR                     1.4% (.15 **)   0.9% (.15 *)
[24.0%, F (18, 496) = 8.71 **]

                                 Percentage of'variation in media
                                 diet/SPIR explained uniquely by each
Media diet/ SPIR                 variable (beta value)
(percentage of variation
explamea by the model            Escape         Political
overall)                         gratfication   interest #

Mainstream/non-mainstream        2.2%           --
media diet                       (.20 **)
[17.0%, F (18, 496) = 5.64 **]
Private/public media diet        2.0%           --
[22.2%, F (18, 496) = 7.86 **]   (.19 **)
Tabloid/broadsheet media         --             --
diet
[23.8%, F (18, 496) = 8.59 **]
Internet SPIR                    --             --
[14.4%, F (18, 496) = 4.62 **]
Print media SPIR                 --             0.7%
[14.9%, F (18, 496)=4.81 **]                    (.24 *)
Radio SPIR                       1.1% (.14 *)   0.9%
[6.5%, F (18, 496) = 1.92 *]                    (.27 *)
Television SPIR                  --             --
[18.3%, F (18, 496)=6.17 **]
Non-news media SPIR              1.1%           --
[23.0%, F (18, 496) = 8.24 **]
                                 (-,14 **)
Overall SPIR                     --             0.6%
[24.0%, F (18, 496) = 8.71 **]                  (.22 *)

* p<.05; ** p<.01

# To enable linear regression using a categorical variable, the
political interest variable was dummy coded. The
figures reported here relate to respondents who indicated they have 'a
good deal' of interest in politics, with  the reference value being
people who reported having no interest in politics.
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Author:Moody, Kim E.
Publication:Media International Australia incorporating Culture and Policy
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Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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