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CottrellFowler-ISAwo - The Globalization of Local News the Indexing Hypothesis and Coverage of World Affairs Patrick Cottrell and Erika Franklin

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1 The Globalization of Local News: the Indexing Hypothesis and Coverage of World Affairs Patrick Cottrell and Erika Franklin Fowler* University of Wisconsin-Madison Prepared for the International Studies Association Conference Chicago, IL February 28, 2007 DRAFT—Please do not cite without permission from the authors *The authors contributed equally to this paper; names are listed in alphabetical order.
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2 I. Introduction Walter Lippmann famously wrote that most of the political world with which citizens must cope is “out of reach, out of sight, out of mind,” leaving most to rely heavily on mass media reports for their news. 1 Although there are many news outlets available, an overwhelming majority of Americans (74 percent) claim to get their information on both national and international affairs from television. Of those who report relying on television as their primary source, more people say they get their news from local broadcasts than from any one of the three national networks. 2 Indeed, more than half of Americans (59%) watch local news regularly, substantially more than any other news. It follows from this logic that local news is a primary source of information for the general citizenry, not just on local issues, but on global issues as well. However, while most Americans get their information from local news, they remain relatively uninformed about political issues, especially those related to international affairs and foreign policy. 3 According to a 2000 American Council on Education Survey, under a third (31%) of individuals could not name either country that borders the United States, could only name one of the bordering countries, or incorrectly named something other than Canada or Mexico. Only half (50%) of the public correctly named Britain’s prime minister as Tony Blair and fewer than one in five (23%) could identify Kofi Annan as Secretary General of the United Nations. 4 1 Lippmann 1922, p. 18. 2 Pew Center for the People & the Press. June 26, 2005. “Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists.” See http://people-press.org. See also Glliam and Iyengar 2000 and Iyengar and Kinder 1988. 3 The views of most citizens on policy matters are relatively unorganized, unstable, and somewhat uninformed. For the classic statement on this issue, see Converse 1964. 4 See also, for example, Delli Carpini and Keeter’s What Americans Know About Politics and Why It Matters (1996). A recent National Geographic survey also found that only 37% of the 18-24 age range could identify Iraq on a map, despite being at war for more than a year.
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3 One possible contributing factor to the relative ignorance of the American public on foreign affairs issues is that there is so little foreign policy coverage in local news. 5
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This note was uploaded on 02/23/2011 for the course SOC 131 taught by Professor Kathy during the Spring '06 term at Michigan State University.

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CottrellFowler-ISAwo - The Globalization of Local News the Indexing Hypothesis and Coverage of World Affairs Patrick Cottrell and Erika Franklin

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