Observations of the contemporary news media environment often revolve around the topics of ideological polarization and blurred boundaries between mass and interpersonal communication. This study explores these topics through a focus on the association between ideologically oriented online news use, commenting on online news, and political participation. We hypothesize that both ideological online news use generally and proattitudinal online news use are positively related to political participation and that online news commenting creates "differential gains" by augmenting these relationships. Yet we also hypothesize that counterattitudinal online news use is negatively related to political participation and that online news commenting creates "differential losses" by exacerbating this relationship. Analyses of two independently collected and nationally representative surveys found that frequent ideological online news use, proattitudinal online news use, and commenting are all positively related to political participation. We found no evidence for differential gains as a result of online commenting but only for differential losses-counterattitudinal online news use interacts with commenting to create a negative relationship with political participation.
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