A Quantitative Study of Interest in Local and Foreign News in Traditional Media and on the Internet
Claiming that interest in local vs. foreign news is one way of measuring orientation towards local and greater society, this paper utilizes a Norwegian survey with questions about interest in news to identify groups with different orientations. The study builds on Merton’s (1949) local/cosmopolitan dichotomy, but takes this further by claiming that rather than two, there are four different ways of orienting oneself towards local and greater society on the basis of local/foreign news interest. The author suggests that a categorizing of individuals into either ‘locals’, ‘cosmopolitans’, ‘local cosmopolitans’ or the ‘disconnected’ is a more fruitful way of dealing with this matter. The results show that gender, age, education and ties to one’s domicile may help explain which type of individual constitutes each of the four categories. Comparing traditional media with the Internet, the study shows that the level of interest in news on the Internet is generally lower, but that the patterns tied to the traditional media are transferred relatively unchanged to the Internet.
Around the world, rapid media choice proliferation is empowering audiences and allowing individuals to more precisely tailor personal media use. From a democratic perspective, the relationship between the changing media environment and news use is of particular interest. This article presents a comparative exploration of citizens’ changing orientations towards local, national and international news in two very different countries, Norway and the United States, between 1995 and 2012. Prior research suggests that more media choice correlates with a decrease in news consumption. Our analysis shows a pattern of increasing specialization in news orientation in both countries. We also find that the strongest Norwegian trend is one of specialization while the strongest trend in the United States is one of disconnection. Altogether, the results illustrate how local conditions shape the effects of global technological developments.