Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Electronic News

First Page


Last Page




This study explores the relationship between online news coverage, media use, and political knowledge in the contemporary media environment. Using the debate over health care reform legislation in 2010 as the backdrop, content analysis was performed on 1,268 stories from 10 online news outlets over a 1-month period to identify the media frames being perpetuated by more ideologically partisan versus nonpartisan media organizations. A survey was then conducted with 333 participants to investigate media audience news consumption patterns and their individual frames regarding the issue of health care reform. Results suggest that a person’s individual frames held concerning health care reform often match up with the media frames offered by his or her preferred news outlets. Consequently, a “horizontal” knowledge gap may be observed as a function of the polarization of news coverage and news consumption. Theoretical contributions and implications for later work are discussed.


This is a post-print version of an article originally published in Electronic News, 2014, Volume 8, Issue 1.


The version of record is available through: SAGE.