Wolfowitz Conjecture: A Research Note on Civil War and News Coverage

Urlacher, Brian R.
May 2009
International Studies Perspectives;May2009, Vol. 10 Issue 2, p186
Academic Journal
How news coverage is affected by dangerous security environments is an important issue for political scientists who rely upon journalistic accounts of political events. It is also a controversial issue in the policy arena. In June of 2004, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz attributed the American public's pessimism regarding U.S. efforts at stabilizing Iraq to the manner in which Iraq was covered by the U.S. media, suggesting that journalists in Iraq were holed up in hotels rather than in the field. This statement was conjecture, but if there is indeed a link between news coverage and violence, then this would be important for social scientists to understand. In this article, I probe this link by examining how conflict intensity and journalist deaths affect both the volume and length of news coverage in civil wars from 1992 to 1999. This paper shows that news coverage is largely unaffected by violence, except in the most extreme circumstances.


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