Sunday, April 2, 2006

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Blegging for research help

Blogging has been light because I'm putting the finishing touches on a research paper... and there's one small question that's nagging at me. Are any readers aware of surveys done in the past decade of the attitudes of American journalists towards American foreign policy?

The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations has a great quadrennial series of polls about American elites, but the reports do not break out responses for journalists.

I'm also aware of the surveys and research into reporters' domestic ideological affiliation, and the volumnious literature on media bias, but that's no good to me -- attitudes towards domestic policies don't translate well into international relations.

I need to see polling numbers of journalists' opinions about foreign policy priorities, the use of force, and/or foreign economic policy. I vaguely recall reading about a few of these, but my numerous searches have produced zilch so far. So, I hereby delegate this to knowledgeable readers.

[What do they get if they find something useful?--ed. A big, big thank you in the acknowledgments.]

posted by Dan on 04.02.06 at 11:01 AM


This is a little old, 1980, but seems to be what you are looking for.
The Foreign policy part is easy to find.
A google search of "survey of journalists" foreign policy, will give you a few more polls. Hope that helps.

posted by: bziller on 04.02.06 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

I found this one on Academic Search Premier. A bit hard to parse but it seems to refer to surveys that break out journalistic opinion. Perhaps the "foreign policy leader" survey.

Page, Benjamin I.1
Jacobs, Lawrence W.2

Source: Conference Papers -- Midwestern Political Science Association; 2004 Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL, p1-30, 30p, 4 charts

Abstract: Does a “foreign policy establishment” exist in the United States? If so, how do the print and broadcast journalists who cover foreign affairs relate to it? Are they independent watchdogs, or members of the establishment, or something else? We address these questions by using 1974-2002 Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) general public and “foreign policy leader” survey data to explore how the foreign policy preferences of journalists have related to the preferences of foreign policy decision makers, experts on international affairs, business leaders, labor leaders, religious leaders, and the general public. Correlational and factor analytic evidence indicates that the foreign policy preferences of all six leadership groups and (to a lesser extent) the general public tend to hang together. But certain groups are more closely linked than others. The policy preferences of journalists, along with those of experts, policymakers, and business leaders, all load heavily on a “foreign policy establishment” factor. The preferences of labor leaders, religious leaders, and especially the general public, however, load more heavily on an “outsider” factor. The establishment tends to disagree markedly with the outsiders concerning number of important economic, military and diplomatic issues. Our analyses of other groups? influence upon journalists? foreign policy preferences are not conclusive, but they suggest that journalists are moved toward conformity with establishment views by foreign policy experts and perhaps also by policymakers. Taken as a whole, the evidence tends to support the existence of a foreign policy establishment with shared policy preferences. It locates foreign affairs journalists as members of that establishment, standing considerably closer to the views of policymakers and other establishment groups than to the views of the general public. This casts doubt upon the capacity or willingness of the media to perform a “watchdog” function... [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

posted by: Gregory Sanders on 04.02.06 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

This is an awfully small data set and not exactly what you asked for, but this survey of journalists' political opinions done by FAIR in 1998 includes one question each about NAFTA and free trade agreements in general. (Scroll down to Part C, #7.)

The upshot: "65% of journalists feel that NAFTA has had more of a positive impact on the United States, while only 8% feel it has had more of a negative impact." And, "journalists are more likely to favor granting 'fast track' authority to the President to negotiate new trade agreements.... A full 71% of journalists favor such a policy, while only 10% oppose it."

I hope that helps!

posted by: JMB on 04.02.06 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Try this text:
Graber, Doris A. _Mass Media & American Politics (7th edition)_. CQ Press: Washington, 2006.

Of particular interest to you would be:
-a table breaking down which regions of the world received the most television news coverage in one month in 2004 - the Middle East dominated, followed by Western Europe (p. 331)
-data on the percentage of stories from 3 different outlets' coverage of the 1990 buildup to the first Gulf War that questioned the efficacy and rationale of the impending war - perhaps lending insight to journalists' views on use of force (p. 339)
-general data on the percentage of all stories that cover foreign affairs compared to the total number of stories - IR does not dominate American press (p. 319)

I would recommend reading all of Chapter 11, "Foreign Affairs Coverage," to get a qualitative insight into the process of foreign news reporting. There's probably even more quantitative data in there that you could use, but this is what I got from just skimming it for five minutes.

Here is the author's e-mail, which I found online:

Another media researcher you might talk to is Paul Freedman, my own professor at UVA. His e-mail is:

posted by: David T. Roisen on 04.02.06 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

If anyone would have that data, I would suggest that either Ole Holsti of Duke or Steven Kull of PIPA/U Maryland would be able to point you in the right direction.

posted by: Michael Noonan on 04.02.06 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

You haven't stated the hypothesis you intend to prove or disprove, but I can think of only one major current event where the question of journalistic objectivity and American foreign policy intersect. Please, tell me you're not taking seriously the proposition that some sort of collective journalistic bias is skewing the coverage of Iraq (and by association Iran) in unrealistically negative broad strokes. Because, if you are not aware of the argument, some conservative thinkers are saying just that. Please, assuage my heart and tell me you are heading somewhere else with this research.

posted by: jf on 04.02.06 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

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