Yariv Tsfati and Jonathan Cohen
Research about the way people perceive news media has made progress in three parallel avenues. The first used the concept of credibility and trust; the second used the concept of hostile media perceptions; and the third – focusing on perceptions of media impact – used the concept of the third-person perception. In this chapter, we argue that these three avenues are empirically and conceptually connected and that they are related to media effects in three ways. First, people's mistrust of media has been found to moderate the influence of media on the audience in an array of studies. Second, people's perceptions regarding media impact matter, albeit indirectly, because people react to these perceptions as if they were real. Third, the effects of perceptions of media influence are amplified when they are coupled with perceptions of media hostility, especially among audiences that are personally and emotionally involved in the issues on which media texts report.
People are exposed to information about the world by the news media. While this information shapes one's opinions about the world, attitudes toward the media themselves are also developed in the course of news consumption. Opinions about media may be generalized (e.g., the media are liberal; Lee, 2005), or targeted to the way specific topics are covered by news media (e.g., ...