Soft News Goes to War: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy in the New Media Age / Edition 1

Soft News Goes to War: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy in the New Media Age / Edition 1

by Matthew A. Baum
ISBN-10:
0691123772
ISBN-13:
2900691123775
Pub. Date:
11/07/2005
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
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Overview

Soft News Goes to War: Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy in the New Media Age / Edition 1

The American public has consistently declared itself less concerned with foreign affairs in the post-Cold War era, even after 9/11, than at any time since World War II. How can it be, then, that public attentiveness to U.S. foreign policy crises has increased? This book represents the first systematic attempt to explain this apparent paradox. Matthew Baum argues that the answer lies in changes to television's presentation of political information. In so doing he develops a compelling "byproduct" theory of information consumption. The information revolution has fundamentally changed the way the mass media, especially television, covers foreign policy. Traditional news has been repackaged into numerous entertainment-oriented news programs and talk shows. By transforming political issues involving scandal or violence (especially attacks against America) into entertainment, the "soft news" media have actually captured more viewers who will now follow news about foreign crises, due to its entertainment value, even if they remain uninterested in foreign policy.

Baum rigorously tests his theory through content analyses of traditional and soft news media coverage of various post-WWII U.S. foreign crises and statistical analyses of public opinion surveys. The results hold key implications for the future of American politics and foreign policy. For instance, watching soft news reinforces isolationism among many inattentive Americans. Scholars, political analysts, and even politicians have tended to ignore the soft news media and politically disengaged citizens. But, as this well-written book cogently demonstrates, soft news viewers represent a largely untapped reservoir of unusually persuadable voters.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 2900691123775
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 11/07/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 344
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.25(h) x 9.00(d)

Table of Contents

Prefaceix
Chapter 1War and Entertainment1
AppendixDefining "Attentiveness"15
Chapter 2Soft News and the Accidentally Attentive Public18
AppendixLocating Changes in Cognitive Costs and Benefits53
Chapter 3"I Heard It on Oprah"57
AppendixContent Analysis Coding Form95
Chapter 4Bringing War to the Masses97
Appendix 1.On Using Opinionation as an Indicator of Attentiveness133
Appendix 2.Variable Definitions138
Appendix 3.Statistical Tables144
Chapter 5Tuning Out the World Isn't as Easy as It Used to Be156
Appendix 1.Data Sources and Variable Definitions195
Appendix 2.Testing for Floor and Ceiling Effects200
Appendix 3.Comparing Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War202
Appendix 4.Statistical Tables204
Chapter 6Rallying Round the Water Cooler212
Appendix 1.Variable Definitions223
Appendix 2.Statistical Tables225
Chapter 7Soft News and World Views: Foreign Policy Attitudes of the Inattentive Public229
AppendixStatistical Tables259
Chapter 8Soft News, Public Opinion, and American Foreign Policy: The Good, the Bad, and the Merely Entertaining269
AppendixStatistical Tables292
Notes295
References330
Index345

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