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Policy Sciences

, 41:115 | Cite as

Conduit or contributor? The role of media in policy change theory

  • Elizabeth A. ShanahanEmail author
  • Mark K. McBeth
  • Paul L. Hathaway
  • Ruth J. Arnell
Article

Abstract

The policy change literature is contradictory about the role the media plays in policy change: a conduit for policy participants, with media accounts transmitting multiple policy beliefs of those involved in policy debates or a contributor in the policy process, with media accounts supplying consistent policy beliefs with congruent narrative framing strategies to construct a policy story. The purpose of this study is to empirically test whether the role of the media is that of a conduit or contributor in the policy change process. This study tests whether there are differences in policy beliefs and narrative framing strategies between local and national print media coverage of two contentious policy issues in the Greater Yellowstone Area between 1986 and 2006, that of snowmobile access and wolf reintroduction. In the Greater Yellowstone Area policy arena, local media accounts are believed to be aligned with the Old West Advocacy Coalition, whereas the national media accounts are thought to be part of the New West Advocacy Coalition. With a methodology informed by narrative policy analysis, one hundred seventy five local and national print newspaper accounts were content analyzed to determine whether these media accounts were policy narratives, with embedded policy beliefs and narrative framing strategies. The results indicate that there are statistical differences between local and national media coverage for five of the seven hypotheses. Media accounts are generally policy stories, suggesting that the media’s role is more of a contributor than a conduit in the policy change process.

Keywords

Media Policy change Narrative policy analysis Content analysis Greater Yellowstone Advocacy coalition New West–Old West 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Shanahan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mark K. McBeth
    • 2
  • Paul L. Hathaway
    • 3
  • Ruth J. Arnell
    • 2
  1. 1.Montana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Idaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA
  3. 3.Jacksonville State UniversityJacksonvilleUSA

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