Since Israel became a state in 1948, protecting it has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. As with any political issue, the media plays a key role in shaping public opinion, which in turn can affect how policymakers make decisions. With this in mind, it is important to understand how these issues are covered and what effect decisions of the media have on public opinion.
H1:People who consume the majority of their news via U.S. television will have a more favorable view of Israel than those who consume the majority of their news via social media.
Previous research has demonstrated that mass media plays a critical role in shaping public opinion about foreign policy. Soroka (2003) tells us that mass media the main source of foreign policy information for the public, an issue in which people lack personal experience and rely more heavily on outside knowledge. Additionally, policymakers rely on the media to gauge public opinion. However, with the expansion of news sources, specifically social media, there has been little research on the differences in messages received by those who get their news primarily from legacy media sources, such as network and major cable news, and less traditional sources.
With the media providing such a key role in shaping public opinion, it is important that they make careful choices in how and what issues they portray, ensuring fair coverage the demonstrates all relevant perspectives. However, research suggests that because of the things like the CNN factor, this is not always the case. The CNN factor is defined as “the process by which the media in influence foreign policy by evoking responses in their audiences through concentrated and emotionally based coverage, which in turn...
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... issue is highly important. If the issue is perceived as highly important, people are more like to push for action to create a solution. In the Israeli/Palestinian conflict’s case, research suggests that viewers would support the U.S. government taking a more active role in the conflict.
Through theoretical backing from the CNN effect, cultivation theory, and agenda setting theory, insight is provided into exactly how the media influences public opinion on foreign policy. Specifically, the media works to serve the political elite and paints a picture of the world that is perceived as more threatening than reality. When this is applied to the case of the United States and Israel, these issues become particularly important, given that the conflict has persisted for many decades. This means the media has had an extended period to influence public opinion.
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