College of Letters & Science, School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Michael W. Wagner (Bachelor of Journalism, University of Nebraska; Ph.D., Indiana University) is Associate Professor and Louis A. Maier Faculty Development Fellow in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His more than 40 academic journal articles and book chapters appear in outlets such as Journal of Communication, Annual Review of Political Science, and Journalism and Communication Monographs. The editor of Political Communication’s Forum, Wagner has earned grants from the National Science Foundation and the Carnegie-Knight Foundation. His latest book (co-authored with UNL’s Elizabeth Theiss-Morse), Political Behavior of the American Electorate, was released in January 2018.
The talk will describe how what we think of as the contemporary political divide in the United States is far more complicated than it appears in the typical “red state-blue state” coverage we see in the news media. While we tend to think of Americans being “liberal,” “moderate,” or “conservative,” American public opinion is primarily organized around two types of issues: economic and cultural. Things get complicated because some people have liberal views on both types of issues, some have conservative views on both types of issues and others have views that are liberal on some issues and conservative on others. My talk will describe the far-reaching consequences of this insight from party identification, voting behavior, political participation, media use, the 2016 elections and the future of American political conflict.
The talk reviews research on fake news, fact-checking, selective exposure to like-minded media outlets and describes the implications for democracy.
The talk describes research into media bias and the biased nature that individuals display when the process mediated messages.