Is any old coverage good coverage?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images The media circus surrounding the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the candidates’ constant reversion to rehearsed talking points in both the debates and interviews might leave you feeling jaded about the value of media political coverage. But rather than hope for the hoopla to stop, perhaps we should pray that it continues. ...

591956_081021_newspapers5.jpg
591956_081021_newspapers5.jpg

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesThe media circus surrounding the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the candidates' constant reversion to rehearsed talking points in both the debates and interviews might leave you feeling jaded about the value of media political coverage. But rather than hope for the hoopla to stop, perhaps we should pray that it continues.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The media circus surrounding the upcoming U.S. presidential elections and the candidates’ constant reversion to rehearsed talking points in both the debates and interviews might leave you feeling jaded about the value of media political coverage. But rather than hope for the hoopla to stop, perhaps we should pray that it continues.

 

A recent study by political scientists at MIT and IIES, a research institute in Stockholm, suggests that in the long run media attention really does make politicians — or U.S. congressmen, anyway — more accountable:

Congressmen who are less covered by the local press work less for their constituencies: they are less likely to stand witness before congressional hearings, to serve on constituency-oriented committees, and to vote against the party line… Federal spending is lower in areas where there is less press coverage of the local members of congress.

The study set low standards for what counts as press coverage; the researchers simply looked at how often a politician’s name is mentioned in local newspapers, which makes the apparent impact of such coverage all the more surprising. The study also finds that press coverage of local politicians is lower in areas where residents get their news from media sources that cater to multiple political districts. Bad news for local readers of the Washington Post and the New York Times?

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows the Statue of Liberty holding a torch with other hands alongside hers as she lifts the flame, also resembling laurel, into place on the edge of the United Nations laurel logo.
An illustration shows the Statue of Liberty holding a torch with other hands alongside hers as she lifts the flame, also resembling laurel, into place on the edge of the United Nations laurel logo.

A New Multilateralism

How the United States can rejuvenate the global institutions it created.

A view from the cockpit shows backlit control panels and two pilots inside a KC-130J aerial refueler en route from Williamtown to Darwin as the sun sets on the horizon.
A view from the cockpit shows backlit control panels and two pilots inside a KC-130J aerial refueler en route from Williamtown to Darwin as the sun sets on the horizon.

America Prepares for a Pacific War With China It Doesn’t Want

Embedded with U.S. forces in the Pacific, I saw the dilemmas of deterrence firsthand.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, seen in a suit and tie and in profile, walks outside the venue at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Behind him is a sculptural tree in a larger planter that appears to be leaning away from him.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, seen in a suit and tie and in profile, walks outside the venue at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. Behind him is a sculptural tree in a larger planter that appears to be leaning away from him.

The Endless Frustration of Chinese Diplomacy

Beijing’s representatives are always scared they could be the next to vanish.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomes Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman during an official ceremony at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on June 22, 2022.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomes Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman during an official ceremony at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on June 22, 2022.

The End of America’s Middle East

The region’s four major countries have all forfeited Washington’s trust.