Do Mass Media Shape Public Opinion toward China? Quantitative Evidence on New York Times with Deep Learning

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Journal Article

Do mass media influence people’s opinion of other countries? Using BERT, a deep neural network-based natural language processing model, we analyze a large corpus of 267,907 China-related articles published by The New York Times since 1970. We then compare our output from The New York Times to a longitudinal data set constructed from 101 cross-sectional surveys of the American public’s views on China. We find that the reporting of The New York Times on China in one year explains 54% of the variance in American public opinion on China in the next. Our result confirms hypothesized links between media and public opinion and helps shed light on how mass media can influence public opinion of foreign countries.

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