Covering Congress: Media Effects on Evaluations of the Legislative Branch

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Title: Covering Congress: Media Effects on Evaluations of the Legislative Branch
Author: Johnson, Tyler
Abstract: This project takes an in -depth look at the role that media coverage of both individual members of Congress and Congress as a whole plays in shaping approval of legislators and the legislative branch . I argue that by examining what the media choose to cover and how the media cover it , we can learn more about the standards by which judgments of political performance take place . As such , I also contend that differences between the tone and substance in which the media cover individual legislators compared to how they cover the legislative branch go a long way to explaining why Americans cast favor upon those they send to Congress and cast doubt on Congress itself . The essential dichotomy examined in the project , based on Thomas Patterson's (1993 ) assessment of the changing nature of how the mass media cover campaigning , splits reporting on Congress into governing coverage and game coverage . Governing coverage deals more with substantive issues , policy problems , and signals that business is taking place . Game coverage , on the other hand , is more concerned with the parliamentary struggles between actors and parties to pass legislation and accrue power ; it treats politicians as strategic actors always competing for advantages . Game coverage also focuses heavily on winning and losing . I argue that the over time focus on either game or governing aspects of legislating and representing will drive assessments of members of Congress and Congress itself . More specifically , I analyze how game frame coverage is likely to spur negative job approval , while governing frame coverage drives positive assessments of job performance .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2009 -05 -628
Date: 2010-01-16

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Covering Congress: Media Effects on Evaluations of the Legislative Branch. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2009 -05 -628 .

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