Thomas J. Johnson

Thomas J. Johnson
University of Texas at Austin | UT · Department of Journalism

PhD

About

100
Publications
72,203
Reads
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5,427
Citations
Additional affiliations
August 2010 - present
University of Texas at Austin
Position
  • Amon G. Carter Jr. Centennial Professor of Communication
August 1996 - July 2000
Texas Tech University
Position
  • Sharleen Marshall Regents Professor in Convergent Media

Publications

Publications (100)
Chapter
As Covid-19 was just gaining a foot-hold around the world, the Director-General of the World Health Organization warned on Feb. 15, 2020 that the world was facing another disaster, one as dangerous as the ongoing coronavirus: an infodemic, which is an overload of misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories that threatened the success of...
Article
The present study explores the relationship between the need for orientation (NFO) and knowledge/misperception about COVID-19 using a two-wave panel survey of U.S. adults (W1: N = 1,119; W2: N = 543). The findings suggest that moderate-active NFO rather than high NFO better predicts individuals’ level of knowledge and misperception. We also found t...
Article
This study examined the third-person perception (TPP) in terms of the influence of fake news through the lens of the Gamson hypothesis – the combination of political trust and political self-efficacy – and how the perception may affect one’s fake news sharing behavior. Data from a national survey (N = 1,024) indicates that Dissidents (low political...
Article
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To examine whether selective exposure occurs when people read news attributed to an algorithm author, this study conducted a 2 (author attribution: human or algorithm) × 3 (article attitude: attitude-consistent news, attitude-challenging news, or neutral story) × 2 (article topic: gun control or abortion) mixed-design online experiment (N = 351). B...
Article
The power of app-driven mobile phones was first unleashed in 2011 when they were used to mobilize protesters and gain support for political movements in the United States and abroad. Mobile devices have since become the bedrock of political activism. To examine the influence of app reliance on offline and online political participation, this study...
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This study proposes a three-way interaction model that examines how (1) partisan selective exposure to political information on social media, (2) information processing, and (3) ideology influenced support for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for president. Findings indicate that processing election information systematically affected support for C...
Article
Almost all news media, political organizations and candidates now have a dedicated app that provides superior visibility and readability on a mobile device than a website. Mobile apps figure predominately in news consumers’ lives, making it crucial to understand if users view app information as trustworthy and biased. With the proliferation of apps...
Article
The ubiquity of mobile devices and the apps that power them has spurred concerns that they are contributing to the decline in news media use. Mobile devices, however, have been credited with spurring political participation. In its examination of app-reliant individuals, this study found that reliance on apps positively predicts political participa...
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During times of hot crises, traditional news organizations have historically contributed to public fear and panic by emphasizing risks and uncertainties. The degree to which digital and social media platforms contribute to this panic is essential to consider in the new media landscape. This research examines news coverage of the 2014 Ebola crisis,...
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In research on news exposure and public opinion, media credibility is typically examined as the dependent variable and is rarely considered an independent variable of interest. We move the understanding of media credibility forward by examining its role in attenuating the effects of media exposure on public opinion and how individual differences ma...
Conference Paper
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The perceived threat of social network sites (SNSs) to traditional news consumption brings to mind the theories of media displacement/complementary effects. Through a two-wave panel survey, this study reveals that complementary effects exist between SNSs and traditional media, among SNSs, and between news-centric features -- Twitter Moments and Sna...
Article
Despite fears that selective exposure and selective avoidance could deepen polarization and negatively affect the democratic process, few studies have directly studied this phenomenon. This study explores whether selective exposure and avoidance to blogs, social network sites, and Twitter directly influence confidence in Congress and the president...
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This article “strengthens the core” of uses and gratifications theory by offering reliance, credibility, and interactivity as measures of social media use. Although reliance is recognized as a predictor of media use, it has not been extensively studied in regard to social media. The findings indicate that reliance is the strongest predictor of moti...
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This study of media use during the 2012 presidential election examines whether online use, partisanship, and perceptions of media bias predict time spent with traditionally delivered media. Traditional media lost ground to online sources. Moreover, Obama supporters spent more time with liberal media, Romney backers with conservative media, and rega...
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Is it possible to identify opinion leaders in a semi-anonymous online network? To answer this question, this study examines the social news site Reddit to determine whether opinion leadership can be recognized in an online network that, at face value, does not allow users to associate with their off-line personas. Identifiable characteristics, such...
Article
This study has four primary purposes: to investigate the level of interactivity with 15 sources of political information, determine the degree of reliance on each of the sources, assess perceptions of credibility, and compare the strength of interactivity to the strength of reliance on judgments of credibility. This study includes sources that have...
Article
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Parody news programs regale viewers with satirical, witty, and humorous exposés of the political world and news coverage, but they have also been criticized for creating cynicism and political disengagement. This study found that parody news viewers are self-efficacious and more politically active than viewers of CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, or broadcast...
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The Tea Party has been identified by most mass media sources as a separate but related element of the Republican Party. This study adds to a new body of literature on the Tea Party by using polarization literature and survey data to (a) separate Tea Party Republicans (TPR), Tea Party Non-Republicans (TPNR), and Non–Tea Party Republicans; (b) identi...
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How do online news and social media use relate to public support for the European Union? To answer this question, this study compares the effect of institutional websites, news websites, online social networks, blogs, and video hosting websites on five important dimensions of public attitudes toward the EU: strengthening, performance, fear, efficac...
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Article
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Scholars have confirmed that political candidates are increasingly turning to social network sites (SNS) to persuade voters to vote for them, and that these sites have become prominent sources of political information. But a fundamental question arises about the sustainability of social networks as a campaign tool: How much do users trust the infor...
Article
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This study investigated what sources were relied on to find out about Osama bin Laden's death and whether perceptions of credibility and political party affiliation influenced these media choices. The most striking difference in media reliance for bin Laden news was that whatever sources Tea Partiers relied on and thought credible were those that D...
Article
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The rise of social media, such as blogs, social network sites, Twitter, and YouTube, encourages hope for renewed confidence in the government and news media because these venues connect users directly to candidates and officeholders. This article indicates that blogs most heavily relied on the type of social media for political information. Moreove...
Article
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A survey of magazine professionals found fewer than four in 10 respondents would alter or enhance an image to improve its readability. Circulation, size and magazine type predicted whether respondents would enhance photographs. However, despite the declines in media credibility and the expectation among readers that publications would indicate when...
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This study extends the Gamson Hypothesis, which asserts that trust and self-efficacy affect political activity, by examining how reliance on mainstream and alternative sources of political information interact with trust, self-efficacy, and political activity. Overall, this study supports the Gamson Hypothesis: Dissidents (those high in self-effica...
Article
While the media industry may consider credibility its most valuable asset, scholars suggest there is a potential “dark side” to credibility: Perceptions of credibility of a source lead to selective exposure and selective avoidance, and both lead to increased fragmentation and polarization of social and political views. The link between credibility...
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This study employs a secondary analysis of U.S. nationally representative data from the Pew Internet 2008 civic engagement survey (N = 2251) to examine the degree to which contacting public officials both online and offline is explained by the variables of gender and political connectedness. We find that while women are somewhat less likely to cont...
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This study examines the motivations for why politically interested Internet users in the United States access political blogs and attempts to discover which factors predict motivations for using political blogs. Political surveillance/guidance motives appeared as the strongest motivation for using political blogs, followed by expression/affiliation...
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This study aimed to determine how well embedded reporters perceived they covered the Iraq War and whether those attitudes have changed over time. While findings suggested embeds continue to judge their overall performance as positively in 2005/6 as in 2004, respondents largely recognized problems with the embedding process. Data analysis indicated...
Article
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This research used a path analysis model to explore the degree to which reliance on off-line and online media, off-line and online discussion of political issues, as well as political attitudes predict whether an individual will engage in selective exposure to political websites. The study also looked at selective avoidance of contradictory informa...
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This study combines both the agenda-building and the second-level agenda approaches. It proposes an expansion of agenda-building research by examining the interaction among the president, the media and the public for an event that was not considered an existing ‘real-world’ condition. Specifically, this study uses former President Bush’s five most...
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Using two-step cluster analysis this study identifies four groups of users who deem seven types of blogs (general information, media/journalism, war, military, political, corporate, and personal blogs) as highly credible. The four groups are each motivated to turn to blogs for many of the same reasons; however, some differences emerged among the gr...
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This study employed an online survey to examine the extent to which blog users judge different types of blogs as credible. More specifically, this study examines the extent to which blog users judge general information, media/journalism, war, military, political, corporate and personal blogs as credible and how they differ on individual credibility...
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This study uses an online panel of Internet users to examine the degree to which those who visit U.S. political websites and blogs practice selective exposure as they construct their individual political networks. Specifically, the analysis addresses the extent to which individuals say they visit websites and blogs with which they agree and disagre...
Article
This study examined the influence of motivations for, and reliance, on social network sites on selective exposure (purposely seeking agreeable political information) and selective avoidance (purposely dodging disagreeable political information). The results are based on an online survey that was posted during the four-week period surrounding the 20...
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This chapter examines the deliberative potential of blogs and blog users. It investigates whether heavy reliance on blogs promotes positive characteristics-political efficacy, political interest, and political involvement-needed to foster democratic deliberation, or whether it leads to negative attributes-low trust, selective exposure, and politica...
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This study surveyed those who used blogs for information about the war in Iraq to investigate the degree to which judgements of credibility, reliance, demographics, and political characteristics of war blog users have changed between 2003 and 2007. In both 2003 and 2007, blog users judged blogs as more credible sources for war news than traditional...
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This study used an online survey of politically interested Internet users to examine the Gamson hypothesis, which asserts that those who are low in political trust and high in political self-efficacy can be most easily mobilized into political action. Previous studies have focused on behavioral effects of trust and efficacy, whereas this study also...
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The study examined the role of self-presentation on MySpace pages through the information users post on their sites. MySpace users were more comfortable with posting the broad pieces of information, like gender, race, zodiac sign, and hometown. They were not as willing to present personal information like income, whether they smoke or drank or grou...
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During the race for the presidency in 2007-2008, one of the editors of this special issue of Mass Communication & Society spent a month reading Barack Obama's official campaign MySpace page (Perlmutter, 2008). Its most notable feature was the posting of comments by thousands of people, not all of them supporters of the Illinois senator's bid for th...
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This study relies on online surveys of politically interested web users during the 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential elections to examine the degree to which people judge online information as credible and to compare how credibility has shifted in the past decade. Whereas credibility scores jumped in 2000, they declined in 2004. Online issue source...
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Scholars have debated how successful the government was in managing coverage of the ground war in Iraq through the embed system, but few have surveyed the embedded journalists themselves to discover the degree they believe their press freedom was restricted. This study compares results from a survey conducted of embedded journalists in late 2005 an...
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This study examined the degree to which visitors to Al-Jazeera’s English-language website support broadcasters presenting graphic and war-related imagery in comparison to users of Al-Jazeera’s Arabic-language website. The authors found that users of the Al-Jazeera English-language website overwhelmingly supported the network’s decision to run graph...
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Social networking is a phenomenon of interest to many scholars. While most of the recent research on social networking sites has focused on user characteristics, very few studies have examined their roles in engaging people in the democratic process. This paper relies on a telephone survey of Southwest residents to examine the extent to which relia...
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This study relied on an online survey of politically interested Web users during the 2004 presidential election to examine the degree to which people judged online information as credible. All online media were seen as only moderately credible, with blogs and online newspapers being rated higher than online broadcast and cable news. Reliance on the...
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The Internet has provided scholars a unique opportunity to address the issue of democracy and political polarization by exploring the relationship between political tolerance and selective exposure. This study uses an online panel of Internet users from a major university to explore the degree to which selective exposure to blogs predicts tolerance...
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This study used an online panel of Internet users to examine the degree to which blog users practice selective exposure when seeking political information. The research employed a path analysis model to explore the extent to which exposure to offline and online discussion of political issues, and offline and online media use, as well as political v...
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This study surveyed politically interested online users to examine how they perceive the traditional news media, their online counterparts and independent web-based newspapers, as well as exploring which factors influenced credibility of online sources during the 2004 general election in South Korea. Independent web-based newspapers were considered...
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Studies suggest that US reporters, who enjoy the protection of the First Amendment, are strong supporters of freedom of the press. However, studies also suggest that the press rarely challenges the positions of government elites, unless those elites do not agree on a course of action. What happens when attitudes toward free press and government pol...
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This study employed an online survey of politically interested Internet users during the two weeks before and the two weeks after the 2004 presidential election to compare how they judge five components of the Internet in terms of credibility for political information. Blogs were judged as the most credible with issue-oriented Web sites also judged...
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This study examines a survey of embedded journalists worldwide to explore their opinions about press freedom and the degree to which they believe their reports were censored during the Iraq War. Our findings suggest most journalists took a social responsibility approach to freedom of the press during the war in Iraq, saying the needs of the media a...
Article
Section A. The Determinants of International News Flow and Coverage Introduction International news coverage and Americans' image of the world By: Guy J. Golan, Wayne Wanta and Thomas Johnson Chapter 1 Changing Global Media Landscape, Unchanging Theories? International Communication Research and Paradigm Testing Tsan-Kuo Chang Chapter 2 Internation...
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/ This study surveyed Al-Jazeera viewers through a survey posted on the network's Arabic-language website to examine how credible Al-Jazeera viewers judge the network. Not surprisingly, Al-Jazeera viewers rated the network as highly credible on all measures. They rated CNN and BBC high on expertise, but ranked them low on trustworthiness. Consequen...
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This study employs an online survey to examine U.S. politically-interested Internet users’ perceptions of the credibility of blogs. The article focuses on the influence of blog reliance compared to motivations for visiting blogs in determining blog credibility. The study found that blogs were judged as moderately credible, but as more credible than...
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This survey examines how viewers of Al-Jazeera perceive the network's presentation of graphic and war-related visuals and whether the viewers perceive that the TV channel provides visual information they cannot find in national Arab media, CNN, and other Western media. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents supported the use of graphic imagery saying watching...
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A survey of 159 embedded and unilateral journalists who covered the Iraq War revealed differences between perceptions of coverage by embeds and that of unilaterals.
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This study examines factors affecting individuals' attitudes toward the media and susceptibility to agenda setting at times of moral panic. Sixty-three percent of respondents in a survey conducted a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks perceived the media anthrax coverage as accurate. Results suggest geographic location and gender, in addition to attit...
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This study employed an online survey of 249 politically interested Internet users during the 2004 national Assembly election in South Korea to examine if reliance on online news media for political news and information influences political attitudes after controlling for demographics and use of the traditional media. Reliance on independent Web-bas...
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A survey of embedded journalists suggests an overall positive perception of embedded reporting. While most embeds agreed their reports provided a narrow slice of the conflict, they still had a positive view of their work. Respondents also noted their stories differed from the stories of non-embedded journalists and perceived both types of reporting...
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This agenda-building study examined the presidencies of Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush to determine to what degree they influenced media and public concern for the drug issue. This study found a complex reciprocal relation between the president, the public, and the press, with results differing depending what pres...
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This study surveyed Weblog users online to investigate how credible they view blogs as compared to traditional media as well as other online sources. This study also explores the degree to which reliance on Weblogs as well as traditional and online media sources predicts credibility of Weblogs after controlling for demographic and political factors...
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This study surveyed politically interested Internet users online during the 2000 presidential election to examine their motives for using Web, bulletin boards/electronic mailing lists and chat forums for political information and to determine whether political attitudes, Internet experience and personal characteristics predict Internet use motivati...
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This study employs an online survey of politically interested Internet users to examine the degree to which Internet experience predicts reliance on the World Wide Web (Web) and Web credibility. Respondents in this study represent an experienced group of Internet users. The average user had been online 6.2 years. However, they regularly engaged in...
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This study employed an online survey of 187 editors of online versions of traditional newspapers to investigate their journalistic values. It examined whether those values were predicted by age, gender, education, major, years of journalism experience, circulation of the traditional newspaper, political interest and political ideology, and the degr...
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This study examines what online activities politically interested Internet users regularly engage in and how online activities are linked to motivations for using the Internet. This study found that politically interested web users were motivated to go online for different reasons than the general public and therefore they participated in different...
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This study employed an online survey of 442 politically interested Web users during the 2000 presidential election to examine the extent to which relying on the Web for political information influences political interest, campaign interest, political involvement, likelihood of voting, and voting behavior after controlling for demographics, politica...
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This study employed an online survey of 442 politically interested Web users during the 2000 presidential election to examine the extent to which relying on the Web for political information influences political interest, campaign interest, political involvement, likelihood of voting, and voting behavior after controlling for demographics, politica...