Getting the Message Out: Regulatory Policy and the Press

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Few social scientists have paid attention to how the press covers regulatory policy making in the United States. Those who have argue that the press does not cover regulatory policy with vigor. To assess this view, we compared what the Environmental Protection Agency did in one year with the coverage the agency received in two national newspapers in that same year. We find that the newspapers did not neglect the EPA. Although the newspapers certainly did not cover everything the agency did, they covered those regulatory actions that had the most direct impact on the public. The press gets out the message about regulatory actions that affect everyday life, shift policy in novel directions, and result in policy failure. Our findings suggest that scholars should pay more attention to the impact press coverage might have on the regulatory process.

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Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics