Effects of International Affairs News Reporting on Knowledge and Perceptions - A Study of U.S. Residents and Foreign Affairs Elite | Andrew Shaver

Tuesday, October 17, 2023
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

William J. Perry Conference Room

  • Andrew Shaver,
  • Shawn Robbins

About the Event: U.S. residents and international affairs elite surveyed for this project report significant reliance on news reporting for information on international affairs. They also acknowledge major gaps in international affairs coverage. Do these gaps predictably influence fundamental knowledge and perceptions of international affairs? We begin by analyzing tens of millions of recently published articles and find that 1) many major international issues receive minimal major news media attention, and 2) that many international issues, when they are reported on, are depicted in a manner that deviates from underlying empirical realities (e.g. reporting effectively stops even as crises continue). Through a series of surveys, we then analyze how these reporting patterns influence the knowledge and perceptions of international affairs of two distinct populations: 1) U.S. residents; and 2) international affairs professionals consisting of a) international relations faculty at colleges and universities across the United States, b) current and former senior U.S. government officials who collectively served across (at least) three presidential administrations on issues relating to U.S. trade, development, or national security, and c) international affairs-focused staffers at major U.S. think tanks. Results point to significant causal effects of news media reporting practices on respondents' knowledge and perceptions of international affairs. More broadly, we argue that the major news media’s role as an international affairs actor is omitted in  much international relations theorizing and empirical work.

About the Speakers: Andrew Shaver is an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Merced. He is also the founding director of the Political Violence Lab. He previously completed postdoctoral research fellowships at Stanford University's Political Science Department and, separately, at Dartmouth College and earned his PhD in Public Affairs (security studies) from Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs. His research focuses broadly on contemporary sub-state conflict and appears in the American Political Science Review, American Economic Review, Annual Review of Sociology, International Organization, and Journal of Politics, amongst other outlets. Professor Shaver previously served in different foreign affairs/national security positions within the U.S. Government, including spending nearly one and a half years in Iraq during the U.S.-led war with the Pentagon. 

Professor Shaver will be joined by Shawn Robbins, an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine and research intern with the Political Violence Lab.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.