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Introverted Locals or World Citizens?
A Quantitative Study of Interest in Local and Foreign News in Traditional Media and on the Internet

Abstract

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.

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