Foreign Nation Visibility in U.S. Public Discourse A Longitudinal Analysis, 1945-2008
Jones, Timothy Michael
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In this dissertation I introduce and develop the concepts of foreign nation visibility and foreign prioritization, and I analyze them in U.S. public discourse about foreign affairs, examining whether and how they have changed since World War II. Specifically, I examine two important political agendas in the United States: the U.S. presidential agenda and the U.S. news agenda. The primary aim of this research is to understand which countries and issues, as opposed to others, get on these agendas, why this occurs, and whether there are discernable changes in recent decades. To address these questions, I conduct three analyses. First, I undertake a longitudinal content analysis of foreign nation visibility on the presidential agenda, tracking mentions of foreign nations in major presidential addresses to the nation from the end of World War II in 1945 through 2008, the last full year of George W. Bush's presidency. Second, I conduct a longitudinal content analysis of foreign nation visibility in news content, tracking coverage of foreign nations by a major U.S. television network and a leading U.S. newspaper during the same 64-year time period. In both cases, I connect these agendas to a host of factors that scholarship suggests might be expected to influence foreign nation visibility in U.S. public discourse. Finally, I focus on the relationship between the president and the press by examining their direct interaction in presidential press conferences. In this last analysis, I connect emphases on presidential policy and journalistic initiative with foreign nation visibility to expand the circle of implications in this research. Together, these analyses provide rich insight into presidential communications, news content, and foreign nation prioritization in U.S. public discourse.
- Political science