Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
C. Edward Caudill
This research examined the relationship between mass media news coverage and policymaking statements through a comparative study of two nations using two critical events of political violenceAerrorism. It attempted to determine the agenda-building nature of these events on the agendas of the news media and government policy makers in the United States and Great Britain. The research also sought to determine the nature of the relationship between news coverage and the news organization's proximity to a critical event through content analysis.
The critical events studied in this dissertation included the 1992 mortar attack on the British Prime Minister's office at #10 Downing Street by the Irish Republican Army and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York. Cross correlations were used to examine the potential for lagged effects on either news coverage or policy statements.
For this study, it was concluded that there were no agenda-building effects from either the news media or policymakers in the World Trade Center bombing for the period examined. However, there is strong evidence that the event carried both agendas based on the strength of the correlations at the zero lag (.909).
Results in the study on the British media and policy showed weak support with a .557 correlation coefficient at a one-month lag for the media agenda-setting/building process, but researchers generally seek a coefficient of .650 before attaching significance to their findings.
The content analysis sought to determine if nearby news coverage of a terrorist act would be reported in terms which reflected the criminal nature of the act rather than the political nature of the act. The results were mixed. While there is evidence that newspapers report more on the criminal nature of the act when it is nearby, there was little support that the reporting was less political in nature. In fact, the reporting was at a high level of discussion on a political level whether nearby or distant.
Killebrew, Kenneth C., "Critical events and agenda building in the U.S. and Great Britain : a comparative analysis of the communication effects of terrorist acts on elite newspaper coverage and policy statements. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 1998.