Abstract: The Communication Mediation Model contends that conversation serves as a conduit for media influence on participation. Changes in communication systems, media audiences, and political campaigns call this model into question. Its current formulation fails to account for the growing convergence of news and talk via social media and the deepening institutional and social distrust accompanying heightened partisan polarization. Illustrating these changes with three studies that span conventional and computational methods, this presentation explores (1) the nature of online expression during presidential debates, (2) the factors that drive presidential campaign coverage, and (3) the influence of cloistered communication ecologies on the erosion of institutional legitimacy and social trust. An alternate model of mediated communication that emphasizes expression, amplification, and contention is proposed.
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