"Anatomy of Audience Duplication Networks: How Individual Characteristics Differentially Contribute to Fragmentation in News Consumption and Trust." New Media & Society, 2021.

Yilang Peng and Tian Yang

While partisan selective exposure could drive audience fragmentation, other individual factors might also differentiate news diets. This study applies a method that disentangles the differential contributions of the individual characteristics to audience duplication networks. By analyzing a nationally representative survey about US adults’ media use in 2019 (N = 12,043), we demonstrate that news fragmentation is driven by a myriad of individual factors, such as gender, race, and religiosity. Partisanship is still an important driver. We also distinguish between media exposure and media trust, showing that many cross-cutting ties in co-exposure networks disappear when media trust is considered. We conclude that audience fragmentation research should extend beyond ideological selectivity and additionally investigate how and why other individual-level preferences differentially contribute to fragmentation both in news exposure and in news trust.