Communication scholar at USC Annenberg

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Why Does the New York Times Finally Publish Articles About Trans People?

Happy Friday! My newest article, "Setting the Transgender Agenda: Intermedia Agenda-Setting in the Digital News Environment" has finally been made available online ahead of print from Politics, Groups, and Identities. This piece is going to be published as part of a special “Dialogues” section of the journal focused on media and the politics of groups and identities, edited by Rosalee Clawson and Dwaine Jengelley. It in essence asks the question, what caused legacy press that have historically ignored transgender issues and identities to begin covering them with more regularity? The answer, I suggest, is that the pressures of economic competition with digital native news outlets that have more regularly and more openly discussed transgender topics have driven them to increase their transgender coverage. I further suggest that this identifies a pathway for previously marginal topics—particularly those pertaining to marginalized groups—toward legitimacy within the political sphere, moving from periphery to centerstage.

Here's a quick look at the abstract:

Transgender issues have recently emerged as highly salient topics of political contestation in the United States. This paper investigates one relevant factor in that ascent: intermedia agenda-setting between digital-native and legacy press news. Through a content analysis of the top-five digital-native and top-five legacy press online news entities from 2014 to 2015, we investigate the dynamics of intermedia agenda-setting in the context of transgender topics, both at the level of attention to transgender topics in general and at the level of attention to specific issues related to the transgender community (e.g. anti-transgender violence). Results indicate significant causal effects of digital-native coverage on legacy press coverage at the level of general attention to transgender topics. However, results also indicate that at the level of specific transgender issues, digital-native coverage drives legacy press coverage on some issues, which legacy press coverage drives digital-native coverage on others. Implications for intermedia agenda-setting in the digital news media environment and for the future of transgender political rights movements are discussed.

You can download the unpaginated proofs here, on my CV page, or from the "Selected Publications" section of my Research page.

Thomas J BillardComment