Minha Kim of Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul set out to study "whether or not objective reporting actually inhibits political participation." Seventy students taking a course in newswriting were divided into two groups. Half were given a "straight news" article about a 2008 controversy in Korea -- the country's importation of beef from the U.S. despite consumer protests that it wasn't safe -- and half were given an opinionated one.
The students who were politically knowledgeable “were immune to the agitating voice" of the opinionated article, Kim found. But nonobjective stories “exerted profound persuasive impact” on those who were not “sufficiently politically equipped to guide their judgments and actions by self-organized mature knowledge.” Those students were far more likely to attend a protest against the government importing American beef.
In addition, Kim found that the type of media that students consumed influenced their actions.
Traditional media such as newspapers and television did not significantly influence the subjects’ attitude toward the protest. It was the Internet and interpersonal communication that resulted in the subjects’ criticism of the Korean government policy to import U.S. beef. The more frequently subjects used the Internet, the more positive they were toward the protest.(more...)