ESOC Working Paper #27: Media Reporting on International Affairs

Publication Year
ESOC Working Paper Series

We consider how the U.S. news media reports on international affairs. Analyzing ≈40 million
news articles published between 2010 and 2020, we explore whether the American news media
report differently on various international affairs topics based on partisan leanings. We then
analyze ≈25 million articles published by top online news sites to determine whether collective
reporting shows disparities between the level of attention afforded major global issues and
objective measures of their human costs (e.g. numbers of individuals killed). We find that left- and
right-leaning news outlets tend to report on international affairs at similar rates but differ
significantly in their likelihood of referencing particular issues. We find further strong evidence
that the frequency of reporting on the international issues we study tracks only modestly with
their associated human costs. Given evidence U.S. public and policymakers dependence on news
reports for foreign affairs information, our findings raise fundamental questions about the
influence of these reporting biases.


ESOC Working Paper No. 27

Publication Topic
Politics and Public Opinion
Publication Type
ESOC Working Paper