Communication and Commitment: The Strategic Use of the Media in Autocracies.

Show simple item record Jones-Rooy, Andrea E. en_US 2012-06-15T17:29:48Z NO_RESTRICTION en_US 2012-06-15T17:29:48Z 2012 en_US en_US
dc.description.abstract Why do some international events make news headlines in autocratic countries, while others do not? When do they give events prominent attention, and when do they bury them? When do they present the news with bias? This dissertation offers answers to these questions. It evaluates two contending theories for what appears in the news: a theory of audience costs, and an original theory of a tradeoff between legitimacy and credibility. The legitimacy-credibility theory makes additional predictions about when autocrats will use bias in presentation of news. The focus of the dissertation is on China's national media, but the theoretical propositions should hold for other autocratic regimes. The dissertation statistically evaluates several hypotheses through analysis of the {em People's Daily} from 1990-2008 and conducts case studies of international coverage of the Arab Spring (2010-2011) by China, the United States, France, Russia, and Venezuela. It also considers China's coverage of earthquakes and China's coverage of events in the US since 1949. The dissertation finds support for the theory that autocratic leaders balance dual desires of building regime legitimacy and maintaining media credibility. Specifically, the more likely events are to be politically sensitive, the less likely leaders are to cover them directly. The effect of sensitivity is mediated, however, by public interest. As public interest in an event increases, leaders are more likely to cover the event in a biased fashion. When interest is very high, leaders cover very sensitive events directly -- the effect of liability disappears altogether. The logic is consistent for non-crisis and historical events. The findings from this dissertation fill gaps in international relations understandings of audience costs in autocracies, as well as for constructivist arguments about how actors see the world. The research also contributes to literatures in comparative politics, including how autocracies use the media for domestic regime stability. Finally, the research helps further scholarship on China in three ways. It offers a formal logic for China's use of the media, it links China's behavior to that of other autocracies, ands it incorporates our understanding of China into broader research in international relations. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.subject Autocracies en_US
dc.subject China en_US
dc.subject International Events en_US
dc.subject Content Analysis en_US
dc.subject Expert Survey en_US
dc.subject Media en_US
dc.title Communication and Commitment: The Strategic Use of the Media in Autocracies. en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreename Ph.D. en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreediscipline Political Science en_US
dc.description.thesisdegreegrantor University of Michigan, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Axelrod, Robert en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Page, Scott E. en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Bednar, Jenna en_US
dc.contributor.committeemember Potter, Philip en_US
dc.subject.hlbsecondlevel Political Science en_US
dc.subject.hlbtoplevel Social Sciences en_US
dc.owningcollname Dissertations and Theses (Ph.D. and Master's)
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