Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



Indexing theory predicts that, in certain issue areas, media coverage will index levels of elite debate. Elite controversy, the theory predicts, will embolden the press to include a broader variety of sources and coverage should reflect a more open public debate. This has important implications for public opinion. Proponents of the theory expect that it will operate in a variety of issue areas of news coverage, but support for the theory exists largely in the realm of foreign affairs coverage. This study examines television coverage of the 2009 economic stimulus package to evaluate levels of indexing for a domestic, macroeconomic issue. Results show support for indexing theory. Administration sources dominated in the news, but in circumstances of elite debate among government officials, coverage of this economic issue appeared to include a meaningful proportion of non-governmental voices. Examination of the kinds of non-governmental sources journalists used to construct this debate, however, suggests that these results probably overestimate amount of new information about the issue that was made available to the public through television news coverage.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Lawrence, Regina G.