Studio Project

Examining News Media Literacy

The National Association for Media Literacy Education defines media literacy as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information in a variety of forms.” This project uses a creative experimental design to examine the effectiveness of news media literacy messages that appear in social-news aggregation environments to improve our understanding of how adults engage with news content and apply news media literacy skills to their news consumption. In addition, this project uses self-reported survey data in conjunction with website analytics data to better assess the effect of exposure to news media literacy messages. This project is a collaboration between Dr. Melissa Tully and Dr. Emily Vraga, an associate professor of communication at George Mason University.

1st Publication Who is exposed to news? It depends on how you measure: Examining self-reported versus behavioral news exposure measures. Social Science Computer Review,

Abstract: Despite the importance of news exposure to political outcomes, news consumption is notoriously difficult to measure, and misreporting news exposure is common. In this study, we compare participants’ news behaviors measured on a news aggregator website with their self-reported story selection immediately after exposure. We find that both individual and contextual characteristics—especially the presence of political cues in news headlines—influence reporting of news story selection. As a result, the news audience profiles differ using self-reported versus behavioral measures, creating two different pictures of news exposure. More attention is needed to improve news measurement strategies to address misreporting and to improve the accuracy of news audience profiles.

2nd Publication Engaging with the other side: Using news media literacy messages to reduce selective exposure and avoidance. Journal of Information Technology & Politics,

Abstract: We examined whether news media literacy (NML) messages attenuate selective exposure and avoidance. One week before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, participants were randomly assigned to see a NML video advertisement before entering a simulated news aggregation website where behaviors were unobtrusively tracked. For three of the four NML messages, higher levels of partisan selective exposure among Republicans compared to Democrats in the control condition were reduced to non-significance. There were no effects on selective avoidance for either group. Several NML messages limited partisan selective exposure among Republicans, offering a concrete option for addressing problems of selective exposure online.