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In choosing and displaying news, editors, newsroom staff, and broadcasters play an important part in shaping political reality. Readers learn not only about a given issue, but also how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position. In reflecting what candidates are saying during a campaign, the mass media may well determine the important issues--that is, the media may set the "agenda." of the campaign.
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American Association for Public Opinion Research
The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media
Author(s): Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw
Source:
The Public Opinion Quarterly,
Vol. 36, No. 2 (Summer, 1972), pp. 176-187
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Association for Public Opinion
Research
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THE AGENDA-SETTING
FUNCTION OF MASS MEDIA*
BY MAXWELL E. McCOMBS AND DONALD L. SHAW
In choosing
and displaying
news, editors,
newsroom
staff,
and broadcasters
play an important part
in shaping political reality.
Readers learn not only
about a given issue,
but also how much
importance
to attach
to that
issue
from
the amount of information
in a news story
and its position.
In re-
flecting
what candidates
are saying during
a campaign,
the mass media may
well
determine the
important
issues-that is,
the media
may
set
the
"agenda"
of
the
campaign.
The authors
are associate
professors of journalism
at the University of
North
Carolina, Chapel
Hill.
IN
OUR DAY, more
than ever before, candidates
go before the peo-
ple through the mass
media rather than in person.'
The informa-
tion
in the mass media becomes the only contact
many have with
politics. The pledges,
promises, and rhetoric encapsulated
in news
stories, columns,
and editorials constitute
much of the information
upon which
a voting
decision has to be made. Most of what
people
know
comes to them
"second"
or "third" hand from the mass media
or
from
other
people.2
Although the evidence
that mass media deeply change
attitudes in a
campaign
is far from
conclusive,3
the evidence is much stronger that
voters
learn from
the immense
quantity of information
available dur-
ing
each campaign.4
People,
of
course, vary greatly
in their attention
to mass media political
information. Some, normally
the better edu-
cated
and most
politically
interested
(and those
least
likely to change
* This study
was partially
supported
by a grant
from the National Association
of
Broadcasters.
Additional support
was provided
by the UNC Institute
for Research
in Social Science
and the School of
Journalism
Foundation of North Carolina.
1 See Bernard R. Berelson, Paul F. Lazarsfeld,
and William N. McPhee, Voting,
Chicago, University
of Chicago Press,
1954, p. 234. Of course
to some
degree candi-
dates
have always
depended upon the
mass media, but radio and television
brought
a new intimacy
into politics.
2 Kurt Lang and Gladys
Engel Lang, "The Mass Media and Voting,"
in Bernard
Berelson
and Morris
Janowitz, eds.,
Reader in Public Opinion and Communication,
2d ed.,
New
York,
Free
Press,
1966,
p. 466.
8 See Berelson et al., op. cit., p. 223; Paul F. Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson,
and
Hazel Gaudet, The People's Choice,
New York,
Columbia University
Press, 1948,
p.
xx; and Joseph
Trenaman and Denis McQuail, Television and the
Political Image,
London, Methuen
and Co., 1961, pp. 147, 191.
4 See Bernard
C. Cohen, The Press and Foreign Policy,
Princeton,
Princeton
Uni-
versity
Press, 1963,
p. 20o.
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AGENDA-SETTING FUNCTION OF MASS MEDIA 177
political beliefs), actively seek information; but most seem to acquire
it, if at all, without much effort. It just comes in. As Berelson
suc-
cinctly puts it: "On any single subject many 'hear' but few 'listen'."
But Berelson also found that those with the greatest mass
media ex-
posure are most likely to know where the candidates stand on differ-
ent issues.5 Trenaman and McQuail found the same thing in a study
of
the 1959 General Election in England.6 Voters do learn.
They apparently learn, furthermore, in direct proportion
to the
emphasis placed on the campaign issues by the mass media. Specifi-
cally focusing on the agenda-setting function of the media, Lang and
Lang observe:
The mass media force attention to certain issues. They build up public
images of political figures. They are constantly presenting objects suggesting
what
individuals
in the
mass should think about, know about, have feelings
about.7
Perhaps this hypothesized agenda-setting function of the mass
media is most succinctly stated by Cohen, who noted that the press
"may
not be successful
much of the time
in telling people what to
think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers
what to
think about."8 While the mass media may have little influence on the
direction or intensity of attitudes, it is hypothesized that the mass
media set the agenda for each political campaign,
influencing
the
salience of attitudes toward the political issues.
METHOD
To investigate
the
agenda-setting capacity of
the
mass
media in the
1968 presidential campaign, this study attempted to match what
Chapel Hill voters
said were key issues of the campaign
with the
actual content of the mass media used by them during the campaign.
Respondents
were
selected randomly
from
lists
of
registered
voters in
five
Chapel Hill precincts economically, socially,
and racially repre-
sentative of the
community. By restricting this study to
one commun-
5 Berelson
et al., op. cit., pp. 244, 228.
6
Trenaman and McQuail, op. cit., p. 165.
7 Lang and Lang, op. cit.,
p. 468. Trenaman and McQuail warn that there
was
little evidence
in their study that television (or any other
mass medium) did any-
thing other
than
provide
information;
there was little or no attitude change
on sig-
nificant issues.
"People are aware of what is being said, and who is saying
it, but
they do not necessarily
take it at face
value." See op. cit., p. i68. In a more recent
study,
however, Blumler and McQuail found that
high exposure to Liberal party
television
broadcasts in the British
General Election of 1964
was positively
related
to a more favorable
attitude toward
the Liberal party for
those with medium or
weak motivation
to follow
the campaign.
The more strongly
motivated
were much
more stable
in political
attitude. See Jay G. Blumler
and Denis McQuail, Television
in Politics:
Its Uses and Influence,
Chicago, University
of Chicago Press,
1969, p. 200.
s Cohen, op. cit., p. 13.
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178 McCOMBS AND SHAW
ity, numerous other sources of variation-for example, regional dif-
ferences
or variations in media performance-were
controlled.
Between September i8 and October 6, ioo interviews were com-
pleted. To select these ioo respondents a filter
question was used to
identify those who had not yet definitely decided
how to vote-pre-
sumably those most open or susceptible to campaign information.
Only those not yet fully committed to a particular
candidate were in-
terviewed. Borrowing from the Trenaman and McQuail strategy, this
study asked each respondent to outline the key
issues as he saw them,
regardless of what the candidates might be saying at the moment.9 In-
terviewers recorded the answers as exactly as possible.
Concurrently with the voter interviews, the mass media serving
these voters were collected and content analyzed.
A pretest
in spring
1968 found that for the Chapel Hill community
almost all the mass
media political information was provided by the following
sources:
Durham Morning Herald, Durham Sun, Raleigh
News and Observer,
Raleigh Times, New York Times, Time, Newsweek,
and NBC and
CBS evening news broadcasts.
The answers of
respondents regarding major problems
as they
saw
them
and the news and editorial comment
appearing between Sep-
tember
12 and October
6 in the sampled
newspapers, magazines,
and
news
broadcasts were
coded into 15 categories
representing the key
issues and other kinds of campaign news. Media news content also
was
divided
into
"major"
and "minor" levels to see whether there was
any substantial difference
in mass media emphasis
across
topics.10
For
the
print media,
this
major/minor
division
was
in terms
of
space
and
position; for
television,
it was made in terms
of position
and time
allowed. More specifically, major
items were defined
as follows:
1. Television: Any
story
45 seconds
or more
in length and/or
one
of
the
three lead stories.
2. Newspapers: Any story
which
appeared
as the
lead on the front
page or on any page under a three-column
headline
in
which at least
one-third
of the
story (a minimum
of
five
paragraphs)
was
devoted
to
political
news
coverage.
3. News Magazines: Any story
more than one column
or any
item
which
appeared in the lead at the
beginning
of the
news
section
of
the magazine.
9 See Trenaman and McQuail, op. cit., p. 172. The survey question was: "What
are
you most concerned
about these
days?
That is,
regardless
of
what politicians
say,
what are the two or three main things
which you think the government
should
concentrate
on doing
something
about?"
10
Intercoder
reliability
was above .go for
content
analysis
of both "major" and
"minor"
items.
Details of categorization
are described
in the full report
of this
pro-
ject. A small number of copies of the full report
is available for
distribution
and
may be obtained
by
writing
the authors.
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AGENDA-SETTING FUNCTION OF MASS
MEDIA 179
4. Editorial Page Coverage of Newspapers
and Magazines: Any
item
in the lead editorial position (the
top left corner of
the editorial
page)
plus all items in which one-third
(at least five
paragraphs)
of an
editorial or columnist comment
was devoted to political campaign
coverage.
Minor items are those
stories which are political in nature and
included
in the
study
but
which
are smaller in terms of
space, time,
or display than major items.
FINDINGS
The over-all
major item
emphasis
of the selected mass media on
different topics and candidates during
the campaign is displayed in
Table i. It indicates
that
a considerable amount of campaign news
was not devoted to discussion of the major political issues but ra-
ther to analysis of the campaign itself.
This may give pause to those
who think of campaign news as being primarily about the issues.
Thirty-five percent
of the
major
news coverage of Wallace was com-
TABLE 1
MAJOR MASS MEDIA REPORTS ON CANDIDATES AND ISSUES, BY CANDIDATES
Quoted Source
Nixon Agnew
Humphrey Muskie Wallace Lemaya Total
The issues
Foreign policy 7% 9% 13% 15% 2% - 10%
Law and order 5 13 4 - 12 - 6
Fiscal policy 3 4 2 - - - 2
Public welfare 3 4 (*)b 5 2 - 2
Civil
rights 3 9 (*)b 0 4 - 2
Other 19 13 14 25 11 - 15
The
campaign
Polls 1 - - - 1 -
Campaign
events 18 9 21 10 25 - 19
Campaign
analysis 25 17 30 30 35 - 28
Other candidates
Humphrey 11 22 - 5 1 - 5
Muskie
Nixon - - 11 5 3 - 5
Agnew - - - - - (*)b
Wallace 5 - 3 5 - - 3
Lemay 1 - 1 - 4 - 1
Total percent 101%c 100% 99%0 100% 100% 98%c
Total
number 188 23 221 20 95 11 558
a Coverage
of
Lemay
amounted to
only
11
major
items
during
the
September
12-October
6 period
and are
not
individually
included in the
percentages; they
are
included in the
total column.
b
Less than .05
per cent.
c
Does
not
sum
to
100%
because
of
rounding.
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180 McCOMBS
AND SHAW
posed of this analysis
("Has he a chance to win or not?").
For Hum-
phrey and Nixon the figures were, respectively, 30 percent and
25 percent.
At the
same time,
the table also shows the relative
em-
phasis of candidates
speaking about each other. For example, Ag-
new apparently spent more
time attacking Humphrey (22 percent of
the major news items
about Agnew) than did Nixon (11 percent
of
the
major news about Nixon). The over-all minor item
emphasis of
the mass media on these
political issues and topics closely
paralleled
that of major item
emphasis.
Table 2 focuses
on the
relative
emphasis
of each party
on the
is-
sues,
as reflected
in the mass
media. The table
shows that
Humphrey/
Muskie emphasized
foreign policy
far more
than did Nixon/Agnew
or Wallace/Lemay. In the case of the "law and order" issue,
how-
TABLE 2
MASS MEDIA REPORT ON ISSUES, BY PARTIES
Republican Democratic A
merican
Nixon/Agnew Humphrey/Muskie Wallace/Lemay
Issues Major Minor Total Major Minor Total Major Minor Total
Foreign policy 34% 40% 38% 65% 63% 64% 30% 21% 26%
Law and order 26 36 32 19 26 23 48 55 52
Fiscal policy 13 1 6 10 6 8 - - -
Public welfare 13 14 13 4 3 4 7 12 10
Civil
rights 15 8 11 2 2 2 14 12 13
Total
percenta 101% 99% 100% 100% 100% 101% 99% 100% 101%
Total
number 47 72 119 48 62 110 28 33 61
a Some columns do not sum to 100% because
of
rounding.
ever, over half the
Wallace/Lemay
news
was about this,
while less
than
one-fourth of the Humphrey/Muskie
news concentrated
upon
this topic. With
Nixon/Agnew
it
was
almost
a third-just behind
the
Republican emphasis
on foreign policy. Humphrey
of course spent
considerable
time justifying (or commenting upon) the Vietnam
War; Nixon did
not choose
(or have)
to
do
this.
The media appear to have exerted a considerable impact
on vot-
ers' judgments of
what they
considered
the
major
issues of the
cam-
paign (even though
the
questionnaire specifically
asked
them to
make
judgments
without
regard
to what
politicians might
be saying
at the
moment). The correlation
between
the
major item
emphasis
on the
main campaign
issues carried
by
the
media and voters'
independent
judgments
of what were the important
issues was +.967. Between
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AGENDA-SETTING FUNCTION OF MASS MEDIA 181
minor
item
emphasis
on the
main campaign
issues and voters'
judg-
ments,
the
correlation
was +.979. In short,
the data suggest
a very
strong
relationship
between
the emphasis
placed on different
cam-
paign issues
by the media (reflecting to a considerable
degree the
emphasis by candidates)
and the judgments
of voters
as to the sa-
lience
and importance of
various
campaign
topics.
But while the three
presidential
candidates
placed widely
differ-
ent
emphasis
upon different
issues,
the
judgments
of
the
voters
seem
to reflect
the composite
of the
mass media coverage.
This suggests
that
voters
pay some
attention
to all the
political
news
regardless
of
whether
it is from,
or about, any particular
favored
candidate.
Be-
cause the
tables
we have seen
reflect
the
composite of all the
respon-
dents, it is possible that individual differences,
reflected in party
preferences and in a predisposition
to
look mainly at material
favor-
able to
one's
own
party,
are
lost
by
lumping
all the
voters
together
in
the analysis.
Therefore,
answers
of respondents
who indicated a
preference
(but not commitment)
for
one of the candidates
during
the September-October
period studied (45 of the respondents;
the
others
were
undecided)
were
analyzed
separately.
Table 3 shows
the
results of
this
analysis
for
four
selected
media.
The table shows
the frequency
of important
issues cited by re-
spondents
who favored
Humphrey,
Nixon, or Wallace correlated
TABLE 3
INTERCORRELATIONS OF MAJOR AND MINOR ISSUE EMPHASIS BY SELECTED MEDIA
WITH VOTER ISSUE EMPHASIS
Major
Items Minor
Items
News Own News
Own
Selected
Media All
News Party All
News Party
New York
Times
Voters
(D) .89 .79 .97 .85
Voters
(R) .80 .40 .88 .98
Voters
(W) .89 .25 .78 -.53
Durham
Morning Herald
Voters
(D) .84 .74 .95 .83
Voters
(R) .59 .88 .84 .69
Voters
(W) .82 .76 .79 .00
CBS
Voters
(D) .83 .83 .81 .71
Voters
(R) .50 .00 .57 .40
Voters
(W) .78 .80 .86 .76
NBC
Voters
(D) .57 .76 .64 .73
Voters
(R) .27 .13 .66 .63
Voters
(W) .84 .21 .48 -.33
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182 McCOMBS
AND SHAW
(a) with the frequency of all the major and minor issues car-
ried by the media and (b) with the frequency
of the major and
minor
issues oriented to each party (stories
with a particular party
or candidate as a primary referent) carried by
each of the four media.
For example, the correlation is .89 between
what Democrats see as
the important issues and the New York Times's emphasis on the
issues in all its major news items. The correlation
is .79 between
the Democrats' emphasis on the issues and the
emphasis of the New
York Times as reflected only in items about the Democratic can-
didates.
If one expected voters to pay more attention
to the major and
minor issues oriented to their own party-that is, to read or view
selectively-the correlations between the voters
and news/opinion
about their own party should be strongest. This would be evidence
of selective perception." If, on the other hand, the voters attend
reasonably well to all the news, regardless
of which candidate or
party issue is stressed, the correlations between
the voter and total
media content would be strongest. This would be evidence of the
agenda-setting function. The crucial question
is which set of correla-
tions is stronger.
In general,
Table 3
shows
that
voters who were not
firmly
committed
early in the campaign attended
well to all the news. For major
news items,
correlations
were more often
higher
between voter
judg-
ments
of
important
issues
and the issues reflected in all the
news
(in-
cluding of course
news about their favored
candidate/party)
than
were voter
judgments
of issues reflected in news only about their
candidate/party.
For minor news
items, again voters more often cor-
related highest
with
the
emphasis
reflected
in all the
news
than
with
the
emphasis
reflected in news about a favored candidate. Consider-
ing
both
major
and minor item
coverage,
18
of
24 possible compari-
sons
show
voters more
in agreement
with
all the news
rather than
with
news only about their own party/candidate
preference.
This
finding
is better
explained by the agenda-setting
function
of the
mass
media
than
by
selective
perception.
Although
the data reported
in Table 3 generally
show
high agree.
ment
between
voter
and media evaluations of what the important
issues
were
in 1968,
the correlations are not
uniform
across
the vari-
"'.While recent
reviews
of the literature
and new experiments
have questioned
the validity
of the selective
perception
hypothesis,
this has nevertheless
been the
focus of
much communication
research.
For example,
see Richard F. Carter,
Ronald
H. Pyszka,
and Jose L. Guerrero,
"Dissonance and Exposure to Arousive
Informa-
tion," Journalism
Quarterly,
Vol. 46, 1969,
pp. 37-42;
and David 0. Sears and Jona-
than L. Freedman,
"Selective Exposure to Information:
A Critical
Review," Public
Opinion Quarterly,
Vol. 31, 1967,
pp. 194-213.
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AGENDA-SETTING FUNCTION OF MASS MEDIA 183
TABLE 4
CORRELATIONS OF VOTER EMPHASIS ON ISSUES WITH MEDIA COVERAGE
Raleigh
New
York Raleigh News
and
Newsweek Time Times Times Observer
Major Items .30 .30 .96 .80 .91
Minor Items .53 .78 .97 .73 .93
Durham
Durham Morning NBC CBS
Sun Herald News News
Major Items .82 .94 .89 .63
Minor Items .96 .93 .91 .81
ous media and all groups of
voters. The variations
across media are
more
clearly
reflected in Table 4, which includes
all survey
respon-
dents, not
just those predisposed
toward a candidate at the time of
the survey.
There also is a high degree of consensus
among the
news
media about the significant
issues of the campaign,
but again there
is not perfect
agreement.
Considering the news
media as mediators
between
voters
and the
actual political arena,
we might interpret
the
correlations
in
Table 5 as reliability coefficients,
indicating the
extent
of
agreement
among the news
media about
what the important
polit-
ical events
are. To the extent
that the coefficients
are less than
per-
fect,
the
pseudo-environment
reflected in the
mass media is less than
a perfect
representation of
the actual 1968 campaign.
Two sets
of factors,
at least, reduce consensus
among the news
TABLE 5
INTERCORRELATION OF MASS MEDIA PRESIDENTIAL NEWS COVERAGE FOR MAJOR AND
MINOR ITEMS
Raleigh Durham
New News
& Morn-
News- York
Raleigh Ob- Durham ing
week Time Times Times server Sun Herald NBC CBS
Major
Items
Newsweek .99 .54 .92 .79 .81 .79 .68 .42
Time .65 .51 .90 .77 .81 .76 .68 .43
New York
Times .46 .59 .70 .71 .66 .81 .66 .66
Raleigh
Times .73 .66 .64 .85 .89 .90 .72 .62
Raleigh
News and
Observer .84 .49 .60 .74 .84 .93 .82 .60
Durham Sun .77 .47 .47 .70 .80 .94 .91 .77
Durham
Morning
Herald .89 .68 .68 .80 .93 .73 .89 .76
NBC News .81 .65 .38 .87 .73 .84 .75 .82
CBS News .66 .60 .83 .88 .79 .76 .78 .72
Minor Items
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184 McCOMBS AND SHAW
media. First, the basic characteristics of newspapers, television,
and
newsmagazines differ. Newspapers appear daily and have lots of
space. Television is daily but has a severe
time constraint.
Newsmag-
azines appear weekly; news therefore
cannot be as "timely".
Table 5
shows
that
the
highest correlations
tend
to be among
like
media; the
lowest correlations, between different media.
Second,
news
media do have a point of
view,
sometimes
extreme
biases. However, the high correlations in Table 5 (especially among
like media) suggest consensus on news values, especially on major
news items. Although there is no explicit, commonly agreed-upon def-
inition of news, there is a professional norm regarding major news
stories from day to day. These major-story
norms doubtless are
greatly influenced today by widespread use of the major wire services
-especially by newspapers
and television-for
much political infor-
mation.12
But as we move from
major
events
of the
campaign, upon
which
nearly everyone agrees,
there is more
room for
individual in-
terpretation, reflected in the lower correlations
for minor item
agreement among media shown
in Table 5. Since a newspaper, for
example, uses only about 15
percent
of the material available on any
given day, there is considerable latitude for selection among minor
items.
In short, the political world is reproduced imperfectly by individ-
ual news
media. Yet the evidence in this study that voters tend to
share the
media's composite definition of what is important strongly
suggests an agenda-setting function of the mass media.
DISCUSSION
The existence
of an agenda-setting
function of the
mass
media is
not proved by the correlations
reported here, of course,
but the
evidence
is in line with the conditions
that must exist if
agenda-set-
ting by
the mass
media does occur. This study
has
compared aggregate
units-Chapel Hill voters as a group compared to the aggregate
performance
of several mass media. This is
satisfactory
as a first test of
the agenda-setting hypothesis,
but subsequent
research must move
from
a broad societal
level to
the
social
psychological level, matching
12 A number of studies
have focused on the influence
of the wire services.
For
example, see David Gold and Jerry
L. Simmons,
"News Selection Patterns
among
Iowa Dailies," Public Opinion Quarterly,
Vol. 29,
1965,
pp. 425-430;
Guido H. Stem-
pel III, "How Newspapers
Use the
Associated
Press
Afternoon
A-Wire,"
Journalism
Quarterly,
Vol. 41, 1964,
pp. 380-384;
Ralph D. Casey and Thomas H. Copeland
Jr.,
"Use of Foreign
News by ig Minnesota
Dailies," Journalism
Quarterly,
Vol. 35,
1958,
pp. 87-89;
Howard L. Lewis,
"The Cuban Revolt Story:
AP, UPI, and Three
Papers," Journalism
Quarterly,
Vol. 37, i960, pp. 573-578;
George A. Van Horn,
"Analysis
of AP News
on Trunk and Wisconsin
State
Wires," Journalism
Quarterly,
Vol. 29, 1952,
pp. 426-432;
and Scott
M. Cutlip, "Content and Flow of AP News-
From Trunk to TTS to Reader," Journalism
Quarterly,
Vol. 31, 1954,
pp. 434-446,
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AGENDA-SETTING FUNCTION OF MASS MEDIA 185
individual attitudes with individual use of the mass media. Yet even
the present study refines the evidence in several respects.
Efforts
were made to match respondent
attitudes only with media actually
used by Chapel Hill voters. Further,
the analysis includes a juxta-
position of the agenda-setting and selective perception
hypotheses.
Comparison of these correlations too supports the agenda-setting
hypothesis.
Interpreting the evidence from this
study as indicating mass media
influence seems more plausible than alternative explanations. Any
argument that the correlations between
media and voter emphasis
are spurious-that they are simply
responding to the same events and
not influencing each other one way or
the other-assumes that voters
have alternative means of observing the day-to-day changes in the
political arena. This assumption is not plausible; since few
directly
participate
in presidential election campaigns,
and fewer
still see
presidential candidates
in person, the information
flowing
in inter-
personal communication channels is primarily relayed from,
and
based upon, mass media news coverage.
The media are the major
primary sources of national political information;
for most,
mass
media provide
the
best-and only-easily available approximation
of
ever-changing political
realities.
It might also be argued that the high correlations
indicate that
the media simply were successful in matching their messages to audi-
ence interests. Yet since numerous studies
indicate a sharp divergence
between
the news values of professional
journalists and their
audi-
ences,
it would be remarkable
to find
a near perfect fit
in this
one
case.13 It seems more likely
that the media have prevailed
in this
area of
major coverage.
While this
study
is primarily
a sociology
of
politics
and mass com-
munication,
some psychological data were collected on each voter's
personal cognitive representation
of the issues. Shrauger has sug-
gested
that
the salience
of the
evaluative
dimension-not the sheer
number
of attributes-is the essential
feature of cognitive differen-
tiation.14
So a content
analysis
classified
respondents according to
the salience of affect
in their
responses
to open-ended questions
13
Furthermore,
five of the nine media studied
here
are national media and none
of the remaining four originate
in Chapel Hill. It is easier to
argue that
Chapel Hill
voters
fit
their
judgments
of issue salience to the
mass media than the reverse.
An
interesting study
which
discusses the
problems
of
trying to fit
day-to-day news
judg-
ments to reader interest is Guido H. Stempel III, "A Factor Analytic Study of
Reader Interest in News," Journalism
Quarterly, Vol. 44, 1967, pp. 326-330.
An
older study is Philip F. Griffin,
"Reader Comprehension
of News Stories: A Pre-
liminary Study," Journalism
Quarterly,
Vol. 26, 1949,
pp. 389-396.
14 Sid Shrauger, "Cognitive
Differentiation and the
Impression-Formation Process,"
Journal of Personality, Vol. 35,
1967,
PP. 402-414.
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186 McCOMBS AND SHAW
about the candidates and issues.15 Some voters
described the issues
and candidates in highly affective terms. Others were much more
matter-of-fact.
Each respondent's
answers
were
classified
by
the coders
as "all affect," "affect dominant," "some affect but
not
dominant,"
or
"no affect at all."'16 Regarding each voter's salience of affect as his
cognitive style of storing political information,
the study hypothe-
sized
that cognitive style also influences patterns
of
information-seek-
ing.
Eschewing causal language to discuss this relationship,
the hy-
pothesis
states that salience of affect
will
index
or locate
differences
in
the communication
behavior of voters.
But a number of highly
efficient locator variables for voter communication behavior already
are well documented in the
research literature. Among
these are level
of formal education
and interest
in politics generally. However,
in
terms of
The American Voter's
model
of
a "funnel"
stretching
across
time, education
and political
interest are located
some distance
back
from the particular campaign being considered.'7 Cognitive style is
located closer to the
end of the funnel,
closer to the
time of actual
participation
in a campaign.
It also would seem to have the advan-
tage of
a more functional
relationship
to voter
behavior.
Examination of the relationship
between
salience of affect and
this pair of traditional
locators,
education and political interest,
showed
no significant correlations.
The independent
effects
of politi-
cal interest
and salience of
affect on media use are demonstrated in
Table 6. Also demonstrated is the efficacy
of salience of affect
as a
locator or predictor
of media
use, especially among persons with high
political
interest.'8
TABLE 6
PROPORTION OF MEDIA USERS BY POLITICAL INTEREST AND SALIENCE OF AFFECT
Low Political
Interest High Political Interest
High
Affect Low
Affect High
Affect Low
Affect
Media (N = 40) (N = 17) (N = 25) (N = 12)
TV 15.0% 17.7% 20.0% 41.7%
Newspapers 27.5 35.4 36.0 58.3
News
Magazines 7.5 11.8 24.0 33.3
Radio 12.5 11.8 8.0 33.3
Talk 20.0 17.7 64.0 75.0
15 Affect denotes a "pro/con" orientation,
a feeling of liking or disliking something.
Cognition, by contrast, denotes the individual's perception of the attitude
object,
his "image" or organized set
of
information and beliefs about a political object.
16
Coder reliability exceeded go.
17 Angus Campbell, Philip Converse,
Warren Miller, and Donald Stokes, The
American Voter, New York, Wiley, 1960, chap. 2.
1i No statistical analysis is reported
for the five
separate three-way analyses
in
Table 6 because of small N's in some cells,
but despite these small N's the pattern
of
results is consistent
across all media.
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AGENDA-SETTING FUNCTION OF MASS
MEDIA 1;87
Both salience of affect and media use in Table 6 are
based on the
issue that respondents
designated as the most important
to them
personally. Salience of
affect was coded from
their
discussion
of
why
the issue was important. Use of
each
communication
medium is based
on whether
or not the
respondent had seen or heard anything
via
that medium about that particular issue in the past twenty-four
hours.
High salience of affect
tends to block use of communication
media to acquire further
information about issues with high per-
sonal importance. At least,
survey respondents with high
salience of
affect do not recall
acquiring recent information. This is true both for
persons with low and high political interest, but especially among
those with high political
interest. For example, among respondents
with high political interest
and high salience of affect only 36 per-
cent
reported reading
anything in the newspaper recently about the
issue they believed to be most important. But among high political
interest respondents with low salience of affect nearly six of ten
(58.3 percent)
said they
acquired information
from
the newspaper.
Similar
patterns
hold
for all the communication media.
Future studies of communication behavior and political agenda-
setting must consider both psychological and sociological variables;
knowledge of both is crucial to establishment of sound theoretical
constructs. Considered
at both levels as a communication concept,
agenda-setting seems useful
for study of the process of political con-
sensus.
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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La cobertura mediática de la COVID-19 en la Argentina: un estudio sobre el tratamiento informativo de la pandemia en los principales medios online del país Media coverage of COVID-19 in Argentina: a study about the agendas of the pandemic in the main national digital media Resumen La pandemia por COVID-19 constituye un hecho trascendental en la historia de la humanidad, producto de la aparición de un virus desconocido que causó millones de infectados y cientos de miles de muertes, incluso en los sistemas sanitarios de los países más ricos del mundo, trastocando de manera radical la producción económica y la circulación de personas y bienes en el nivel global. En ese contexto, los medios de comunicación adquirieron una centralidad inusitada, ya que la demanda de información se incrementó acentuadamente. En situaciones de confinamiento, las representaciones mediáticas no encuentran mayores posibilidades de contrastación intersubjetiva, por lo que la cantidad y calidad informativa se tornan fundamentales para la toma de decisiones por parte de la ciudadanía. El presente trabajo, que consiste en un análisis de contenido realizado a partir de la operacionalización de conceptos provenientes de la teoría de la agenda setting, tiene como objetivo general analizar las agendas mediáticas de la pandemia en los principales diarios digitales de la Argentina. En términos específicos, se pretende establecer cuál fue la relevancia del problema, de qué modo fueron tematizadas las noticias y cuál fue la valoración de las políticas públicas definidas por el gobierno para el manejo de la situación. Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic is critical event in the history of humanity. The appearance of an unknown virus caused millions of infected and thousands of deaths even in the richest countries
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This study reviews the literature on selective exposure to information and re-analyzes prevalent theories by pointing up existing knowledge regarding the extent to which communication bias and attitude bias actually correlate, and by considering other factors than attitude bias that might account for selectivity. If attitude bias is not a prime cause of selectivity, what about the desire for supportive information, for useful information, for relief from cognitive dissonance, and many other factors?
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Typescript. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Duke University, 1965.
An interesting study which discusses the problems of trying to fit day-to-day news judgments to reader interest is Guido H. Stempel IIIA Factor Analytic Study of Reader Interest in NewsReader Comprehension of News Stories: A Preliminary Study
fit their judgments of issue salience to the mass media than the reverse. An interesting study which discusses the problems of trying to fit day-to-day news judgments to reader interest is Guido H. Stempel III, "A Factor Analytic Study of Reader Interest in News," Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 44, 1967, pp. 326-330. An older study is Philip F. Griffin, "Reader Comprehension of News Stories: A Preliminary Study," Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 26, 1949, pp. 389-396.
It is easier to argue that Chapel Hill voters fit their judgments of issue salience to the mass media than the reverse. An interesting study which discusses the problems of trying to fit day-to-day news judgments to reader interest is Guido H. Stempel III
Furthermore, five of the nine media studied here are national media and none of the remaining four originate in Chapel Hill. It is easier to argue that Chapel Hill voters fit their judgments of issue salience to the mass media than the reverse. An interesting study which discusses the problems of trying to fit day-to-day news judgments to reader interest is Guido H. Stempel III, "A Factor Analytic Study of Reader Interest in News," Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 44, 1967, pp. 326-330. An older study is Philip F. Griffin, "Reader Comprehension of News Stories: A Preliminary Study," Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 26, 1949, pp. 389-396.