Indexing Theory

The indexing hypothesis, as proposed by W. Lance Bennett (1990), states that the range of debate on public affairs appearing in the news is indexed to the range of debate present in mainstream government discourse. With this hypothesis, Bennett pointed out that a variety of theories about the relationship between media and government, particularly political economy theories of media and theories of the sociology of news production, made similar predictions about what the news would look like. Since its initial publication in 1990, more than 100 journal articles have referred to Bennett's essay.

The concept of indexing has appeared most consistently in three areas of political communication research. First, indexing has implications for theories of media autonomy. Well-functioning democracies require an independent press, but much research ...

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