The impact of news consumption on anti-immigration attitudes and populist party support in a changing media ecology
Democracies around the world are facing a rising wave of right-wing populism and new nationalism, which often relies on strategic exploitation of anti-immigration sentiments. While media have long been acknowledged as important channels of anti-immigration rhetoric, the evidence of the actual impact of news consumption on attitudes to
migration and support for populist parties is still inconclusive, and largely limited to pre-digital media ecologies. Combining a representative twowave panel survey (N=819), digital tracking of real-time electronic measurement of television, radio and online media exposure, and an analysis of news content, this study explores the effect of news consumption on anti-immigration attitudes and electoral behaviour during the EP2019 election campaign in the Czech Republic. Our analysis reveals that being exposed to news about migration – particularly on websites and on commercial television stations – increases the likelihood of voting for populist parties, while exposure to public service media leads to less negative attitudes towards immigration. At the same time, being exposed to more news sources intensifies, rather than reduces, anti-immigrant attitudes. This result challenges the assumption that a more diverse news media diet could serve as an antidote to selective exposure and “echo chambers”, commonly linked with radicalization of political views.
- Social Sciences and Humanities
- Communication and Media