Review Questions for Echo Chamber
1. Based on your reading of “Effects of an Echo Chamber,” and class discussions, what are some of the special theoretical and methodological problems that J&C face in studying media effects of exposure to the CME, and what general strategies do J&C propose for dealing with these problems?
2. In “Vetting Candidates for Office,” what (three) important functions do J&C argue the CME performs and what evidence do they provide for these media effects?
3. In Ch. 8, J&C argue that Limbaugh’s constant attacks on Democrats create negative emotions in his audience, namely anger and moral outrage. To what extent is this emotional reaction a rational or an irrational force among Limbaugh listeners and what is the authors’ evidence for their assessment?
4. J&C argue that by framing and reframing media messages for their audience, as well as through priming of common terms and phrases, the CME insulates their audience from outside media influence. How is this done exactly (give a few examples) and what evidence, if any, do J&C present on whether these strategies are effective? Also, evaluate the evidence that listening to CME (e.g., Limbaugh) influences trust of mainstream media and exposure to it (see, e.g., Ch 10).
5. One effect of CME that J&C examine is the “balkanization of knowledge and interpretations.” What does this mean, exactly, and what is the evidence for it, according to the authors (give 3 examples)? Who among Limbaugh’s listeners are most and least susceptible to this effect?
6. Another effect of CME that J&C examine is “distortion and polarization.” What is this effect and how does it work—through what two mechanisms? What is the evidence presented by J&C on this effect? How could the authors’ analysis here be improved?
7. Based in part on your reading of Echo Chamber, what are the major benefits and the costs of an echo chamber? Overall, is it good or bad for democracy?