Patterns of Engagement: Identifying Associations between Listening Styles and Community News Consumption
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Description: Against a backdrop of deepening societal cleavages, increased media fragmentation, and technologies that create informational and social silos for individuals, this study examines how individuals engage with their community. Our study identifies two ways in which this occurs: via interpersonal engagement, which involves listening to others, and mediated engagement, which reflects people turning to the media and attending to news about one’s community. Surveying Latino voters after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, we examine whether distinct patterns of community news engagement exist and investigate how interpersonal listening styles relate to use of community news media and attention to community news. A cluster analysis identified the presence of four distinct types of news users – universally engaged, universally disengaged, community-engaged, and mainstream-engaged users. Partial correlations showed that community news use is associated with different interpersonal listening dispositions. Specifically, a relational component to news engagement exists among Latinos, notable among those with broad interest in public affairs. In addition, a task-oriented and transactional component is less evident among those with a selective interest in community news compared to those interested in “mainstream” public affairs. Our findings illustrate the nuanced ways in which listening orientations are associated with individuals’ mediated engagement with their community.