Seen but Not Heard: Committee Visibility and Institutional Change in the Senate National Security Committees, 1947–2006



Scholars have neglected the effect of the press on political institutions in favor of media influences on campaigns or on voters' trust and information about government. This article examines senators' committee preferences in response to declining media coverage of Congress, focusing on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees from 1947 to 2006. The research relies on new, continuous measures of committee desirability and a unique dataset of congressional press coverage. Although both committees' visibility and attractiveness have declined dramatically over 60 years, statistical analyses indicate that change in internal rules and external events are the most important influences on senators' investment in committee careers.