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A Longitudinal Time Series Analysis of the Foreign Affairs Issue: Agendas of the President, the Media, the Public
Unformatted Document Text:  Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy 11 The total measure of the public’s opinion of the foreign policy issue as the most important problem in the country, after a large spike in the first two years covered in the study, dipped to a more moderate level of importance over the remaining years in question. Less than 12% of respondents cited the foreign policy issue as the country’s most important problem in January 1989; however, after a shaky start the number rose rather sharply with a peak of 34.2% in January 1991, with a rapid drop to 3% in May of that same year. From the May to July 1991 time period public opinion stayed in the 3% range before climbing slightly in August 1991 to 8.5% prior to dipping to a relative plateau of between 2% to 5% for the balance of the period of time in question. The mean percentage of respondents naming the foreign policy as the country’s most important problem was 6.14% during the 8-year time period. The Media’s Structuring of the Foreign Policy Issue Media content. From January 1989 to December 1996, the three networks aired 19,209 foreign policy stories on the evening news. The New York Times covered 16,159 foreign policy stories during this same time frame. This makes for a total of 35,371 foreign policy stories on the combined broadcast and print media analyzed in this study. The three network news broadcasts appeared to give the same relative emphasis to coverage of the foreign policy issue over time. However, CBS devoted more stories to the foreign policy issue with a total of 6,634 stories on foreign policy coverage compared to 6,547 stories for CBS and 6,029 stories for NBC. Issues of foreign policy. The major issues are coverage of general foreign policy– topics of foreign policy, foreign affairs, foreign relations, which do not clearly fall under a labeled subset of the foreign policy issue (i.e. general meetings with multiple heads of state, items that are not clearly delineated by the media in their coverage), which accounts for 39.05% of all coverage, followed by stories about peace keeping, which accounts for

Authors: Mitrook, Michael.
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Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy
11
The total measure of the public’s opinion of the foreign policy issue as the most
important problem in the country, after a large spike in the first two years covered in the
study, dipped to a more moderate level of importance over the remaining years in
question. Less than 12% of respondents cited the foreign policy issue as the country’s
most important problem in January 1989; however, after a shaky start the number rose
rather sharply with a peak of 34.2% in January 1991, with a rapid drop to 3% in May of
that same year. From the May to July 1991 time period public opinion stayed in the 3%
range before climbing slightly in August 1991 to 8.5% prior to dipping to a relative
plateau of between 2% to 5% for the balance of the period of time in question. The mean
percentage of respondents naming the foreign policy as the country’s most important
problem was 6.14% during the 8-year time period.
The Media’s Structuring of the Foreign Policy Issue
Media content. From January 1989 to December 1996, the three networks aired
19,209 foreign policy stories on the evening news. The New York Times covered 16,159
foreign policy stories during this same time frame. This makes for a total of 35,371
foreign policy stories on the combined broadcast and print media analyzed in this study.
The three network news broadcasts appeared to give the same relative emphasis to
coverage of the foreign policy issue over time. However, CBS devoted more stories to
the foreign policy issue with a total of 6,634 stories on foreign policy coverage compared
to 6,547 stories for CBS and 6,029 stories for NBC.
Issues of foreign policy. The major issues are coverage of general foreign policy–
topics of foreign policy, foreign affairs, foreign relations, which do not clearly fall under
a labeled subset of the foreign policy issue (i.e. general meetings with multiple heads of
state, items that are not clearly delineated by the media in their coverage), which accounts
for 39.05% of all coverage, followed by stories about peace keeping, which accounts for


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