The suicidal messenger: How press reporting affects public confidence in the press, the military, and organized religion

David P. Fan, Robert O. Wyatt, Kathy Keltner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The General Social Survey shows that American confidence in the press has declined gradually but continuously from 1973 to 2000. Confidence in the military showed a spike of increase following the Persian Gulf War, whereas that for organized religion underwent a dramatic but temporary decline following scandals associated with televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. This article shows good predictions of confidence time trends for all three institutions (the press, the military, and organized religion) (R2 from 0.61 to 0.82). The InfoTrend computer method was used to score the texts of the stories for coverage explicitly favorable and unfavorable to the three institutions. For the military, additional scores were generated for the Gulf War. For organized religion, the text was also scored for coverage of sex scandals of televangelists and the Roman Catholic clergy. The press content scores were entered into the ideodynamic model to make the successful predictions of the time trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-852
Number of pages27
JournalCommunication Research
Volume28
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2001

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The suicidal messenger: How press reporting affects public confidence in the press, the military, and organized religion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this