The Oprah Effect: How Soft News Helps Inattentive Citizens Vote Consistently

  title={The Oprah Effect: How Soft News Helps Inattentive Citizens Vote Consistently},
  author={Matthew A. Baum and Angela Jamison},
  journal={The Journal of Politics},
  pages={946 - 959}
Do the news media provide voters with sufficient information to function as competent democratic citizens? Many have answered “no,” citing as evidence the proliferation of entertainment-oriented “soft news.” Yet, public affairs-oriented “hard” news is often unappealing to politically inattentive individuals. We argue that news “quality” depends upon how well it enables citizens to determine which candidate best fits their own preferences. In this regard, for politically inattentive citizens, we… Expand
All the News You Want to Hear: The Impact of Partisan News Exposure on Political Participation
In a news media environment characterized by abundant choice, it is becoming increasingly easy for Americans to choose news sources slanted toward their own political views rather than sourcesExpand
The Electoral Consequences of Candidate Appearances on Soft News Programs
The shift in political communication toward soft news has been accelerated by politicians who appear on “soft news” shows, but the literature on the electoral effects of such soft news appearances isExpand
An Entrance for the Uninterested: Who Watches Soft News and How Does It Affect Their Political Participation?
As soft news shows in television present politics in an entertaining format, they are likely to attract and grab the attention of people who do not have a high interest in politics. Consequently,Expand
Deliberative Television: Encouraging Substantive, Citizen-Driven News
With Americans’ confidence in the news media dwindling, the quality of programming declining, and audiences turning elsewhere, the American news media is at a crossroads. We argue that news outletsExpand
Soft News and Foreign Policy: How Expanding the Audience Changes the Policies
  • M. Baum
  • Political Science
  • Japanese Journal of Political Science
  • 2007
Since the 1980s, the mass media have changed the way they cover major political stories, like foreign policy crises. As a consequence, what the public learns about these events has changed. MoreExpand
All the News That’s Fit to Ignore
In a fragmented digital media environment where news is increasingly encountered passively in social media feeds and via automated mobile alerts, active avoidance of news, rather than deliberateExpand
The “Mill Worker’s Son” Heuristic: How Voters Perceive Politicians from Working-Class Families—and How They Really Behave in Office
Politicians often highlight how hard their families had it when they were growing up, presumably in the hopes that voters will see them as more supportive of policies that benefit middle- andExpand
The Electoral Intersection: Information and Context
This project focuses on the role of the media as the key institution in the dissemination of new political information during electoral campaigns and paints a fuller picture of how campaigns are interpreted and utilized by an information heterogeneous electorate within different electoral environments. Expand
The quality of political news in a changing media environment
What do ongoing changes in the media environment, notably the perceived popularization of news and the shift towards individualized online media, mean for political news quality, both in terms ofExpand
American media and democratic theory: consequences of "softest news"
As the 2016 U.S. Election unfolded, it became clear that there were numerous stories about the campaigns, candidates, and the overall race that were not focused on any relevant political informationExpand


News Media Impact on the Ingredients of Presidential Evaluations: Politically Knowledgeable Citizens Are Guided by a Trusted Source
Scholars have uniformly presumed that news media attention to a policy issue increases its impact on presidential job performance evaluations because news coverage enhances the accessibility ofExpand
Any Good News in Soft News? The Impact of Soft News Preference on Political Knowledge
Several scholars, most notably Matt Baum, have recently argued that soft news formats contribute to democratic discourse, because they attract viewers who would otherwise not be exposed to news atExpand
Sex, Lies, and War: How Soft News Brings Foreign Policy to the Inattentive Public
  • M. Baum
  • Political Science
  • American Political Science Review
  • 2002
This study argues that, due to selective political coverage by the entertainment-oriented, soft news media, many otherwise politically inattentive individuals are exposed to information aboutExpand
Soft News Goes to War: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy in the New Media Age
  • M. Just
  • Political Science
  • Perspectives on Politics
  • 2006
Soft News Goes to War: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy in the New Media Age. By Matthew A. Baum. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. 344p. $39.95 cloth, $19.95 paper. MostExpand
This article investigates patterns in audience recep- tion of 16 news stories that received prominent media coverage in the summer and fall of 1989. Using a national sample of American adults, itExpand
News, the politics of illusion
(Each chapter ends with a Notes section.) 1. An Introduction to the News About People, Society, and Politics. Why Blaming Journalists Misses the Point. Inside the American News System. The PuzzlingExpand
Talking the Vote: Why Presidential Candidates Hit the Talk Show Circuit
The 2000 presidential election found the major party presidential candidates chatting with Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O'Donnell, and Regis Philbin, trading one-liners with Jay Leno and David Letterman, andExpand
What Americans Know about Politics and Why It Matters
This book is the most comprehensive analysis ever written about the American public's factual knowledge of politics. Drawing on extensive survey data, including much that is original, two experts inExpand
The Search for a Standard: Markets and Media
Communication scholars are frequently oblivious to the market constraints on the media. We often operate in an imaginary world of an unfettered press and an informationhungry public. This diagnosticExpand
News That Matters: Television and American Opinion
Almost twenty-five years ago, Shanto Iyengar and Donald R. Kinder first documented a series of sophisticated and innovative experiments that unobtrusively altered the order and emphasis of newsExpand