Information Technologies and Omnivorous News Diets Over Three U.S. Presidential Elections

Technology convergence and rising expectations for interactivity have had a significant impact on the news diets of U.S. voters. While television may appear to be the most important single media in this system of political communication, for a growing portion of the population, news diets are defined by combinations and permutations of secondary media. What explains the changing distribution of primary media choice and the dramatic rise in secondary media? We offer a theory of omnivorous information habits to help explain the rising number of people who make active choices to get political news and information from several media technologies, sourced from multiple news organizations, and then engage with news and information through varied interactive tools. Data from 2000, 2004, and 2008 demonstrate not just the growing importance of secondary media, but the importance of the Internet in particular. Indeed, elections have become occasions in which people make significant changes in their information diets.

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Technology and Society
Public Policy
Research Methods
International Affairs