Research

Overview

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University of Minnesota’s campus overlooking downtown Minneapolis.

My research generally focuses on several interdisciplinary questions involving relationships between the public, the news media, and political elites. This includes assessing journalistic norms and practices, measuring changes in digital news content, and exploring how both citizens and officials navigate a shifting landscape of political information.

I am currently working on a book manuscript, entitled The Blind Scorekeepers, which examines the role of public opinion data in news coverage of American politics. It is based in part on my dissertation, a recipient of both the American Political Science Association’s E. E. Schattschneider Award (2018) and the Thomas E. Patterson Award (2017) for the best dissertation in American government and political communication, respectively.

Additionally, I am working on a separate project investigating news audiences, or the complicated relationship people have with following the news. It is focused mainly on “news avoiders,” or the unique population of people who say the almost never consume any conventional news whatsoever. This project began during my time as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism where I remain affiliated as a Research Associate.

Many of the articles below are behind paywalls or still in some stage of review or revision. Please reach out if you’d like a copy.

News Audiences

Toff, Benjamin, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. (2018). “‘I Just Google It’: Folk Theories of Distributed Discovery.” Journal of Communication 68(3): 636–657.

Toff, Benjamin, and Ruth A. Palmer. (In Press). “Explaining the Gender Gap in News Avoidance: ‘News-is-for-Men’ Perceptions and the Burdens of Caretaking.” Journalism Studies. Forthcoming in print.

Toff, Benjamin, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen. (Working paper). “How News Feels: Anxiety as a Barrier to Political Knowledge and Engagement.”

Toff, Benjamin, and Antonis Kalogeropoulos. (Working paper). “All the News that’s Fit to Ignore: A Comparative Analysis of News Avoidance.”

Toff, Benjamin, and Michaele Myers. (Working Paper).”Are We Asking the Wrong Questions? News Exposure Measures in Political Communication Research, 1996-2017.”

Public Opinion

Toff, Benjamin, and Elizabeth Suhay. (In Press). “Partisan Conformity, Social Identity, and the Formation of Policy Preferences.” International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Forthcoming in print.

Toff, Benjamin. (In Press). “Exploring the Effects of Polls on Public Opinion: How and When Media Reports of Policy Preferences Can Become Self-Fulfilling Prophesies.” Accepted at Research and Politics. Forthcoming in print and online.

Toff, Benjamin. (2018). “Rethinking the Debate over Recent Polling Failures.” Political Communication 35(2): 327-332.

Cramer, Katherine J., and Benjamin Toff. (2017). “The Fact of Experience: Rethinking Political Knowledge and Civic Competence.” Perspectives on Politics 15(3): 754-770.

  • Recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Heinz Eulau Award (2018)
  • Covered in Political Science Now.

Journalism Norms and Practices

Toff, Benjamin. (In Press). “The ‘Nate Silver Effect’ on Political Journalism: Gatecrashers, Gatekeepers, and Changing Newsroom Practices Around Coverage of Public Opinion Polls.” Journalism. Forthcoming in print.

Toff, Benjamin. (2016). “Polls may be making voters worse at predicting elections.Washington Post, Monkey Cage blog. Nov. 18.

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