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Who Killed the Travelin' Soldier:
Elites, Masses, and Blacklisting of Critical Speakers

Working Paper #26, Spring 2003

Gabriel Rossman
Department of Sociology,
Princeton University

Several studies have shown the influence of ownership on media content in routine contexts but none has quantitatively tested it in the theoretically important context of a crisis. Recently the country musicians the Dixie Chicks were blacklisted from the radio for criticizing the president in wartime. I use this event to test the role of media ownership in a crisis. Through analyzing airplay from a national sample of radio stations, this paper finds that contrary to prominent allegations grounded in the political economy tradition of media sociology, this backlash did not come from owners of large chains. Rather, I find that opposition to the Dixie Chicks represents grassroots conservative sentiment, which may be exacerbated by the ideological connotations of country music or tempered by tolerance for dissent.

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