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Book description

Around the world, there are increasing concerns about the accuracy of media coverage. It is vital in representative democracies that citizens have access to reliable information about what is happening in government policy, so that they can form meaningful preferences and hold politicians accountable. Yet much research and conventional wisdom questions whether the necessary information is available, consumed, and understood. This study is the first large-scale empirical investigation into the frequency and reliability of media coverage in five policy domains, and it provides tools that can be exported to other areas, in the US and elsewhere. Examining decades of government spending, media coverage, and public opinion in the US, this book assesses the accuracy of media coverage, and measures its direct impact on citizens' preferences for policy. This innovative study has far-reaching implications for those studying and teaching politics as well as for reporters and citizens.


'Information and Democracy is a major breakthrough in the study of how large democracies process the two-way flow of information between citizens and government. Through a fresh and thorough empirical analysis of the policy content of U.S. news media, Soroka and Wlezien show that media really act to facilitate the transmission of the basic information necessary for citizens to adjust their opinions about governmental policies. This book is necessary reading for scholars of public opinion, political communications, and public.'

Bryan D. Jones - J.J. 'Jake' Pickle Regents' Chair in Congressional Studies, University of Texas

'Stuart Soroka and Christopher Wlezien have written a masterful book. Information and Democracy offers a challenge to overly simplistic critiques of democratic representation, it provides a nuanced assessment of the modern media environment, and it solves one of the great puzzles of political science - how seemingly uninformed publics respond systematically to policy change. This book is theoretically rich, built on a trove of data, highly accessible, and couldn’t be more timely.'

Peter K. Enns - Professor of Government and Public Policy and Robert S. Harrison Director of the Cornell Center for Social Sciences, Cornell University

'In the current political climate characterized by a multi-channel and multi-platform information environment, media distrust, and concerns about polarization and rampant misinformation, few objectives seem more important than those set forth in this book. Soroka and Wlezien navigate decades of theories on media functions, behavior, and effects - which they complement with evidence from analyses of a massive amount of data - to help us understand the conditions under which democratic citizens are provided with accurate (or inaccurate) information and with what effects. Readers will come away with a better informed, evidence-based assessment of how well media perform as democratic watchdog and the extent to which citizens attend media accounts of government action and respond to changes in public policy.'

Johanna Dunaway - Associate Professor of Political Science, Texas A&M University

‘… this book provides a much-welcome proof of concept that the media are capable of serving as an effective conduit of information.’

Emily Thorson Source: Perspectives on Politics

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