Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Information

Major Professor

Peter Gross

Committee Members

Michael R. Fitzgerald, Catherine A. Luther, Paul G. Ashdown


This dissertation explores the roles news media and think tanks play in U.S. foreign policy in an analysis of their possible effects on each other’s agendas. In an analysis of salience of, or attention to, multiple countries over time in coverage from leading U.S. newspapers, The New York Times and Washington Post, and in published online materials from leading U.S. foreign policy think tanks, Brookings Institution and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the research looks at the presence, direction, and strength of agenda-setting effects in the construction of news agendas and attention foci of think tanks. Findings suggest that the relationship between news agenda and agendas of the think tanks is situational, strong when present, highly reciprocal in some cases and unidirectional (either from think tanks to news media content or the other way around) in others. The connection between the agendas of think tanks and the news agenda, as well as the possible impact of think tanks on news media attention to countries, suggest that think tanks should be included in foreign policy agenda-setting models, traditionally limited to policymakers (president and congress), public, and media as active participants. The ability of news media to affect the attention foci of think tanks necessitates consideration of their content in investigating the impact of think tanks.

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