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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 6 American policy goals, not surprising given the status of the Cold War at that time. On a daily basis, the various levels of foreign policy makers in the U.S. government read, watch, and listen to the news media to learn what is going on around the world (O’Heffernan, 1991). If the mass media are used by the policy makers, is it used by the general public for similar purposes? Public Opinion and the Mass Media. The mass media and the public’s consumption of the mass media product has changed dramatically in the later half of the twentieth century. We now assume that descriptions of events and ideas presented in the media have an important impact on the conduct of politics and public thinking, and that the media function as both indicators and influencers of public opinion (Graber, 1984). American politics have also changed during this time, partisan identification is not nearly as strong today as it was decades ago (Spitzer, 1993). Ansolabere, Behr, and Iyengar (1993, p. 139) have gone so far as to say “Contrary to the law of minimal consequences, Americans’ political thinking is profoundly influenced by the mass media, often in rather subtle ways. Television news reports and other media presentations exert a variety of effects on how people think about politics and what they think as well.” As the saturation of the mass media in daily life has progressed, studies designed to describe the effects of the mass media on public opinion have simultaneously developed. Likewise, Page and Shapiro (1992) noted that public opinion can be influenced by the media’s omission of issues that would not make “good stories.” HYPOTHESES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS This work draws particularly upon the time series investigations of agenda setting by Gonzenbach (1992, 1995), Rogers, Dearing, and Chang (1991), and Kepplinger, Donsbach, Brosius, and Staab (1989), seeking to address 6 basic questions about the roles

Authors: Mitrook, Michael.
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Presidential PR efforts and Foreign Policy
6
American policy goals, not surprising given the status of the Cold War at that time. On a
daily basis, the various levels of foreign policy makers in the U.S. government read,
watch, and listen to the news media to learn what is going on around the world
(O’Heffernan, 1991). If the mass media are used by the policy makers, is it used by the
general public for similar purposes?
Public Opinion and the Mass Media. The mass media and the public’s consumption of
the mass media product has changed dramatically in the later half of the twentieth
century. We now assume that descriptions of events and ideas presented in the media
have an important impact on the conduct of politics and public thinking, and that the
media function as both indicators and influencers of public opinion (Graber, 1984).
American politics have also changed during this time, partisan identification is not nearly
as strong today as it was decades ago (Spitzer, 1993). Ansolabere, Behr, and Iyengar
(1993, p. 139) have gone so far as to say “Contrary to the law of minimal consequences,
Americans’ political thinking is profoundly influenced by the mass media, often in rather
subtle ways. Television news reports and other media presentations exert a variety of
effects on how people think about politics and what they think as well.” As the saturation
of the mass media in daily life has progressed, studies designed to describe the effects of
the mass media on public opinion have simultaneously developed. Likewise, Page and
Shapiro (1992) noted that public opinion can be influenced by the media’s omission of
issues that would not make “good stories.”
HYPOTHESES AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This work draws particularly upon the time series investigations of agenda setting
by Gonzenbach (1992, 1995), Rogers, Dearing, and Chang (1991), and Kepplinger,
Donsbach, Brosius, and Staab (1989), seeking to address 6 basic questions about the roles


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