ARTICLE: News users as ‘approximately informed’ and ‘occasionally monitorial’

Picture: Norway, Andenes sunset by xcristine, license CC0 1.0

We need to reconceptualize our expectations of citizens’ news use, state Brita Ytre-Arne and Hallvard Moe, of the University of Bergen, in a new article.

The researchers identify gaps between normative ideals and realistic accounts of news use in democracy today. They develop the unrealistic ideal of the ‘informed citizen’ towards more realism, drawing on Michael Schudson’s work on the ‘monitorial citizen’ concept.

The authors conducted in-depth interviews and analysed media diaries of 50 participants, studying people from varying backgrounds in Norway.

News users users could be better described as ‘approximately informed’ and ‘occasionally monitorial’, the authors state. Smartphones and social media are essential tools for staying informed. The article shows how people value the norm of staying informed, but also fail to do so in everyday life.

Ytre-Arne and Moe highlight three gaps that exist between these more realistic ideals and actual practices in news use:

  • declining “worthwhileness” of following the news,
  • high threshold for engaging,
  • and failure to find information.

The article “Approximately Informed, Occasionally Monitorial?” was published in The International Journal of Press/Politics and is available on the publisher’s website (open access) and on ResearchGate.

Picture: Norway, Andenes sunset by xcristine, license CC0 1.0

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