Political-Media Relations and the Power of Party-Based Regimes
thesisposted on 13.12.2012, 00:00 authored by Anthony DiMaggio
Symbiotic Politics: Political-Media Relations and the Power of Party-Based Regimes Anthony Ross Ray DiMaggio, Ph.D. Department of Political Science University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, Illinois (2012) Dissertation Chairperson: Doris A. Graber This dissertation analyzes the ways in which political parties influence mass media content. It specifically analyzes the partisan composition of government – whether Congress and the Presidency are controlled by one party, the other, or whether control is split between them – and how the composition of government influences how media organizations report public policy and American politics. This study examines a variety of models that try to explain media bias, including those claiming that journalists share a liberal media bias, a pluralistic bias (in which room exists for all types of state and non-state actors in reports), a hegemonic (or pro-business) bias, or a pro-government, pro-official source bias (known as “indexing”) more generally. This study finds evidence that the pro-official source (indexing) bias is the strongest model of the four for explaining how journalists report on public policy issues. More specifically, the composition of government (which parties control Congress and the Presidency) is the strongest factor influencing how media outlets report political conflicts and debates as related to public policy. The pluralistic model of bias is mostly rejected in reporting, since state actors (over non-state actors) overwhelmingly dominate stories, although evidence of a balance between state and non-state actors is found on the op-ed pages of major newspapers. The liberal media bias model is roundly disconfirmed in this study, with little to no evidence that journalists regularly tailor their reporting to fit a liberal agenda. The hegemonic bias model is also rejected in terms of accounting for the ways in which reporters cover stories related to public policy. Hegemonic (pro-business) forces, however, may play a role in influencing not so much what appears in stories, but what does not appear, due to the advertising pressures exerted on editors to leave out of stories those views that are critical of business interests altogether.