Granting Voice to Civil Society: Testing the Indexing Hypothesis in American, Israeli, and Lebanese Newspaper Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
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This study tests W. Lance Bennett’s indexing hypothesis in The New York Times (USA), The Jerusalem Post (Israel), and the Daily Star (Lebanon), analyzing their coverage of the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza strip from December 18, 2003 until September 12, 2005. This research focuses on the extent to which non-government officials, and NGOs particularly, were used as sources within this coverage. In considering all three newspapers, government sources were utilized at a rate of 68-69% within non-opinion pieces, with NGOs constituting 1-5% of sources. Variation in the use of government vs. non-government sources was not statistically significant when comparing the three newspapers, thus indicating that the indexing hypothesis was applicable in the context of American, Israeli, and Lebanese English-language media. While literature indicates the importance of civil society organizations in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, their voices were rarely apparent in the coverage analyzed. Interviews with NGO representatives and reporters revealed several possible explanations for the heavy use of government sources found in this study, including: the possibility that government officials have greater resources than NGOs in reaching out to the press, NGOs influence news coverage by speaking to reporters but are not cited explicitly as sources in articles, and that the specific case study of the disengagement particularly lends itself to the use of government sources.
DepartmentPublic Policy Studies
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