Chicagomag.com cited research by Markus Prior, Director of CSDP and Associate Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, in its discussion of "The Surprising Way That Media Made America More Partisan."
Last year, Princeton’s Markus Prior published an immense literature review on how the media drives political polarization (or doesn’t); it’s as good a review of the current thinking as I’ve ever seen. He writes, regarding his own research:
Compared to print media, broadcast television helped less educated viewers learn more about politics. Even people with little interest in news and politics watched network newscasts because they were glued to the set and there were no real alternatives to news in many markets during the dinner hour. News exposure motivated some of these less educated, less interested viewers to go to the polls. And because their political views were not particularly ideological or partisan, their votes reduced the aggregate impact of party ID, so elections were less partisan in the broadcast era.
If the goal was to find a connection between media and more partisan elections, we can stop looking. The culprit turns out to be not Fox News, but ESPN, HBO, and other early cable channels that lured moderates away from the news—and away from the polls.