Analyzing U.S. Media Discussion of Political Polarization

Thumbnail Image

Persistent link to this item

View Statistics

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Analyzing U.S. Media Discussion of Political Polarization

Published Date




Thesis or Dissertation


How does the media cover political polarization in the United States, and with what effects? The effects of media coverage of political polarization vary based on the type of political polarization presented. Does political polarization manifest as issue position or affective polarization? Are elites or the mass public becoming politically polarized? Is political polarization beneficial or harmful? Depending on how the media answers these questions in coverage of political polarization, perceived polarization may have different effects. This paper provides the first accurate measure of the media coverage of different types of political polarization through a rigorous examination of media coverage of political polarization by the top five U.S. newspapers over a 27-year period. Using keyword sets to identify coverage, I find that media coverage of political polarization has been severely underestimated by past studies and that it is a major component of media coverage today. Since 2016, coverage has increased across all types of political polarization at a rapid pace. This may have a major impact on perceived polarization, resulting in strengthened effects. I additionally discuss the impact to those opposed to further political polarization and those looking to benefit from it.


Related to



Series/Report Number

Funding information

Isbn identifier

Doi identifier

Previously Published Citation

Suggested citation

Dunk, Brandon. (2023). Analyzing U.S. Media Discussion of Political Polarization. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

Content distributed via the University Digital Conservancy may be subject to additional license and use restrictions applied by the depositor. By using these files, users agree to the Terms of Use. Materials in the UDC may contain content that is disturbing and/or harmful. For more information, please see our statement on harmful content in digital repositories.