Dissecting the puzzle of knowledge gap: Media and the Internet in the political knowledge gap in the 2000 presidential election campaign
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Pamela J. Shoemaker
Knowledge gap, Media, Internet, Political knowledge, Presidential election
Communication | Mass Communication | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences
The purpose of this research project is to examine the differential role of newspaper, television news, radio news and the Internet on the knowledge gap between better- and less-educated individuals. The study also investigated whether motivational variables could moderate the effect of each medium on the knowledge gap. In particular, the study paid a special attention to how the Internet, as a relatively new medium, affected the political knowledge gap in the 2000 presidential election campaign setting. The study project deals with one of the greatest challenges of our time--how to stop the "net" from perpetuating inequalities in the system.
A random sample of 400 people in Onondaga County, New York, was interviewed by telephone. The telephone survey permits collecting data about people's political knowledge and media use, including other variables.
Main findings are: (1) As the original knowledge gap hypothesis suggested, there were significant knowledge gaps between better- and less-educated people regarding the 2000 presidential candidates' issue information. (2) No media-use variables affect the magnitude of knowledge gap between better- and less educated people in a statistically significant way, suggesting that newspaper use, television news use, radio use, or Internet use do not decrease or increase the education-based knowledge gap. (3) When attention to media variables were introduced into analysis, education and attention to newspaper significantly interacted with each other. It indicated that when less-educated people paid a lot of attention to political contents in newspaper, they could obtain campaign information better than less-educated who did not. Thus, the size of knowledge gap was greatly reduced. (4) Motivation variables by themselves do not moderate the knowledge gap between better- and less-educated people. (5) Campaign interest moderated the effect of newspaper use on the knowledge gap between better- and less-educated people. The effect of newspaper use on political knowledge gain was greater to less-educated people when they have high campaign interest, and, consequently, the reduced knowledge gap between better- and less-educated people was observed. (6) Knowledge gap was also significantly decreased by the effect of attention to television news. Television attention played a knowledge leveler role in the 2000 election since it contributed to making narrow the knowledge gap.
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Kim, Eunyi, "Dissecting the puzzle of knowledge gap: Media and the Internet in the political knowledge gap in the 2000 presidential election campaign" (2001). Mass Communications - Dissertations. Paper 33.