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Indexing State-Corporate Propaganda: Evaluating the Indexing and Propaganda Models on CNN/CNN En Espanol's Coverage of Fallujah
Unformatted Document Text:  i This postulate is coupled with the objection to, as Mermin wrote, that the news media merely define “what happened as what the government says happened” (1999:145). ii Mermin wrote that the importance of the indexing thesis is at its highest when there is “evidence showing that critical perspectives do not just increase from a reasonable baseline in the news when there is debate in Washington, but instead are ignored or marginalized in the news if not first expressed in Washington.” Elaborating further, Mermin adds, “If there is debate inside the American government over U.S. policy, critical perspectives appear in the news. If government policy has bipartisan support in Washington, however, critical perspectives expressed outside the government are not well reported” (5). iii The question the indexing hypothesis seeks to further answer is whether or not critical perspectives are “outweighed or overshadowed,” or are “ignored or relegated to the margins of the news.” Mermin offers this additional dimension to the indexing hypothesis, terming the latter the “marginalization version” and the former, the “correlation version” (1999:5-6). iv There is a small, but formidable set of political communication scholars who argue that the press has become more independent, particularly following the end of the Cold War (Althaus, Edy, Entman, & Phalen, 1996; Entman, 2004; Fico & Soffin, 1995; Livingston & Eachus, 1996). The underlying assumption behind this literature, however, is challenged by the continuity thesis, which argues that essential North-South relations have not changed even since the end of the Cold War (Stokes, 2003). v At the same time, the PM’s line of corporate criticism helped explain the complete oversight of a corporate related scandal to the Vieques struggle (Kennis, 2006). This scandal continues to be all but completely unknown to journalists and scholars alike, as it completely escaped the radar screen of news coverage. The 4 th filter of the PM, however, explains that scandals involving public relations firms will simply not be a matter of great interest to the news media when they conflict with the interests of the White House. vi See “apologies”: Howard Kurtz, “ The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story; Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't Make Front Page ,” Washington Post, August 12, 2004 (Page A01); and also, Daniel Okrent, “ Weapons of Mass Destruction? Or Mass Distraction? ” New York Times, May 30, 2004. vii See higher end estimate , at Iraq Body Count < >. viii See November 2004 estimate , at the U.N. agency, IRIN < >. ix See the military’s estimate , at < >. x Three coders, in total, undertook coding responsibilities: one person is a native English speaking graduate student, the second person is a native Spanish speaking graduate student and the third person is the principal investigator, who is bi-lingual. The findings in this paper are based on a random sample of 25% (CNN) and 50% (CNN en Español) of the stories. Inter-coder reliability was substantially high, at well over 90% raw agreement. xi Criticism that is not fundamental or substantive, and instead simply questions the outcome or execution of the policy, is a distinction made both by Mermin (1999) and Entman (via his concept of procedural and substantive framing, 2004: 5-6).

Authors: Kennis, Andrew.
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background image
 This postulate is coupled with the objection to, as Mermin wrote, that the news media merely define “what happened as 
what the government says happened” (1999:145).
  Mermin wrote that the importance of the indexing thesis is at its highest when there is “evidence showing that critical 
perspectives do not just increase from a reasonable baseline in the news when there is debate in Washington, but instead are 
ignored or marginalized in the news if not first expressed in Washington.” Elaborating further, Mermin adds, “If there is 
debate inside the American government over U.S. policy, critical perspectives appear in the news. If government policy has 
bipartisan support in Washington, however, critical perspectives expressed outside the government are not well 
reported” (5).
 The question the indexing hypothesis seeks to further answer is whether or not critical perspectives are “outweighed or 
overshadowed,” or are “ignored or relegated to the margins of the news.” Mermin offers this additional dimension to the 
indexing hypothesis, terming the latter the “marginalization version” and the former, the “correlation version” (1999:5-6).
 There is a small, but formidable set of political communication scholars who argue that the press has become more 
independent, particularly following the end of the Cold War (Althaus, Edy, Entman, & Phalen, 1996; Entman, 2004; Fico & 
Soffin, 1995; Livingston & Eachus, 1996). The underlying assumption behind this literature, however, is challenged by the 
continuity thesis, which argues that essential North-South relations have not changed even since the end of the Cold War 
(Stokes, 2003). 
 At the same time, the PM’s line of corporate criticism helped explain the complete oversight of a corporate related scandal 
to the Vieques struggle (Kennis, 2006). This scandal continues to be all but completely unknown to journalists and scholars 
alike, as it completely escaped the radar screen of news coverage. The 4
 filter of the PM, however, explains that scandals 
involving public relations firms will simply not be a matter of great interest to the news media when they conflict with the 
interests of the White House. 
  See “apologies”: Howard Kurtz, “
The Post on WMDs: An Inside Story; Prewar Articles Questioning Threat Often Didn't 
Make Front Page
,” Washington Post, August 12, 2004 (Page A01); and also, Daniel Okrent, “
Weapons of Mass 
Destruction? Or Mass Distraction?
” New York Times, May 30, 2004. 
higher end estimate
, at Iraq Body Count <
 See November 2004 
, at the U.N. agency, IRIN <
 See the 
military’s estimate
, at <
  Three coders, in total, undertook coding responsibilities: one person is a native English speaking graduate student, the 
second person is a native Spanish speaking graduate student and the third person is the principal investigator, who is bi-
lingual. The findings in this paper are based on a random sample of 25% (CNN) and 50% (CNN en Español) of the stories. 
Inter-coder reliability was substantially high, at well over 90% raw agreement. 
 Criticism that is not fundamental or substantive, and instead simply questions the outcome or execution of the policy, is a 
distinction made both by Mermin (1999) and Entman (via his concept of procedural and substantive framing, 2004: 5-6).

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