Montanans do tend to live in an echo chamber when it comes to getting their news, according to a survey conducted by the Greater Montana Foundation and reported in the summer issue of the Montana Business Quarterly.
An “echo chamber” is described as getting news from sources that reinforces one’s views. Not only do many Montanans get their news from sources with which they tend to agree, but they access shared news from others who hold similar views – although they are somewhat more skeptical of shared news sources, reports John Baldridge, a research who wrote the article as a project manager for the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.
“As more Montanans get their news from social media and other Montana-based internet sources, the evidence seems to point toward a continued tailoring of these sources and interactions to match their beliefs,” writes Baldridge. Of course, the problem with that is it limits people’s exposure to differing or competing views, and narrows their perspective of the world.
Increasing a viewer/reader’s ability to choose news sources is, however, one of the manifestations of the new internet era. Also, the internet allows, for the first time, users to easily share content with others. “While the effects of this new channel of news distribution are not fully understood, this survey offers a first glimpse into its use in Montana.”
The survey found that while increasingly more and more people get their news on the internet – 49 percent – Republicans are most likely to get their news from “providers that are stereotyped as matching their political party identification” – 30-40 percent. And – while a third of Montanans share what they encounter on the internet, Republicans are more likely to share news with others of like-mind – 49 percent. Between 23 and 35 percent of Democrats go to news sources most likely to share their views, and 40 percent tend to share news. About 37 percent of “others” were inclined to do so, also.
The more education an individual has the more likely they are to share news.
Some 53 percent of Montanans still get news from television and only 29 percent get it from print media. 25 percent get their news from radio.
While FOX edges out CNN as the primary source for national news in Montana, 16.9 percent vs. 15.3 percent, the primary source for Montanans international news is BBC (18.4 percent) followed by CNN (14..7 percent) and FOX (11 percent) and MSN (6.1 percent).
For national news, Republicans rely on FOX 41.7 percent, followed by CNN 11.1 percent, and Democrats rely on CNN 23.2 percent and the New York Times, 10.5 percent. Interestingly of the top seven websites used by Republicans, the New York Times is not listed, and for the Democrats top seven, FOX is not listed. Also not listed in the Democratic sources, but listed for the Republicans, are the Drudge Report, Yahoo, Reuters, Bloomberg, and Breitbart. And, vice versa, while the Billings Gazette, Huffington Post, the Guardian, NPR, ABC, CBS, and KULR 8 are among Democrat sources, they are not among those of Republicans.
For local news Montanans list of favored websites are Billings Gazette (14.5 percent); Missoulian (10.3); KPAX (6.6); KTVQ/Q2 (5); KULR (4.4); Bozeman Chronicle (4.3); Great Falls Tribune (4.2); and KRTV (3.8).