Media Content Analysis Dissertation Help

Human rights coverage in the media: A quantitative content analysis

Jay Samuel Ovsiovitch, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The news media have long been seen as playing an influential role in politics. This influence can be seen in the area of international human rights. News reports are recognized as an informal means of documenting abuses, they shape public opinion and influence the development of foreign policy and the media helps keep human rights on the international political agenda. In spite of the importance attached to the media's coverage of human rights only a handful of studies have examined what the media reports. This study seeks to fill in some of the gaps by examining the media's coverage of human rights.^ This study explores human rights issues reported in theNew York Times, Time magazine, the CBS Evening News, and the Times (London) for a 12 year period, 1978-1989. Media coverage of human rights in all four news sources focused on civil and political rights, most notably to issues involving the integrity of the person and political participation. An examination of the geographical news coverage of human rights found emphasis being placed on stories in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Regional coverage usually focused on a small number of countries, most notably the Soviet Union and Poland, in Eastern Europe, and Argentina, Chile and El Salvador, in Latin America. One important distinction was noted when examining the Times' geographic coverage. The London paper gave priority first to human rights issues involving the European Community. Otherwise, the geographic emphasis was similar to reports in the US media.^ This study also tries to examine the linkages between the media's coverage of human rights and the development of foreign policy. Between August and September, 1991, a questionnaire was mailed to Congressional committee staffers in order to seek their views on the news media's coverage of human rights issues. The respondents acknowledged that media information can influence policy development at least some of the time, while over 40% of the respondents believe that news coverage of human rights often influences policy development. ^

Subject Area

Political Science, General|Political Science, International Law and Relations|Mass Communications

Recommended Citation

Ovsiovitch, Jay Samuel, "Human rights coverage in the media: A quantitative content analysis" (1993). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9406087.


Since April 22, 2005


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