Contextualizing media behavior: Media environments and individuals' media use in the European Union
(University of Kent, United Kingdom)
ABSTRACT: Individuals in ‘freer’ media environments are assumed to have better choices among media and are thus able to make better and more efficient use of media. Using the European Parlia- mentary Elections of 2009 as a highly visible political event, we find that, as expected, individuals use media to satisfy informational needs about the elections in highly ‘free’ media environments (Hallin & Mancini, 2004). In addition, we find strong prima facie evidence that in ‘less free’ media environments distinguished by the strong alignment of parties, social and political cleavages, and media outlets individuals also respond with higher information-seeking media behavior. For comparative media studies, by linking specific media environments to specific individual-level media behaviors, where media is used tells us more about how media is used.