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The Agenda-Setting Role of the Mass Media in the Shaping of Public Opinion

The Agenda-Setting Role of the Mass Media
in the Shaping of Public Opinion
Maxwell McCombs
University of Texas at Austin
The power of the news media to set a nation’s agenda, to focus public attention on a few
key public issues, is an immense and well-documented influence. Not only do people
acquire factual information about public affairs from the news media, readers and
viewers also learn how much importance to attach to a topic on the basis of the emphasis
placed on it in the news. Newspapers provide a host of cues about the salience of the
topics in the daily news – lead story on page one, other front page display, large
headlines, etc. Television news also offers numerous cues about salience – the opening
story on the newscast, length of time devoted to the story, etc. These cues repeated day
after day effectively communicate the importance of each topic. In other words, the news
media can set the agenda for the public’s attention to that small group of issues around
which public opinion forms.
The principal outlines of this influence were sketched by Walter Lippmann in his 1922
classic, Public Opinion, which began with a chapter titled “The World Outside and the
Pictures in Our Heads.” As he noted, the news media are a primary source of those
pictures in our heads about the larger world of public affairs, a world that for most
citizens is “out of reach, out of sight, out of mind.” 1 What we know about the world is
largely based on what the media decide to tell us. More specifically, the result of this
mediated view of the world is that the priorities of the media strongly influence the
priorities of the public. Elements prominent on the media agenda become prominent in
the public mind.
Social scientists examining this agenda-setting influence of the news media on the
public usually have focused on public issues. The agenda of a news organization is found
in its pattern of coverage on public issues over some period of time, a week, a month, an
entire year. Over this period of time, whatever it might be, a few issues are emphasized,
some receive light coverage, and many are seldom or never mentioned. It should be noted
that the use of term “agenda” here is purely descriptive. There is no pejorative
implication that a news organization “has an agenda” that it relentlessly pursues as a
premeditated goal. The media agenda presented to the public results from countless day-
to-day decisions by many different journalists and their supervisors about the news of the
The public agenda – the focus of public attention – is commonly assessed by public
opinion polls that ask some variation of the long-standing Gallup Poll question, “What is
the most important problem facing this country today?”.
Comparisons of the media agenda in the weeks preceding these opinion polls
measuring the public agenda yield significant evidence of the agenda-setting role of the
news media. When Chapel Hill, North Carolina, voters were asked to name the most
important issues of the day – in the very first empirical study of this agenda-setting
influence – their responses closely reflected the pattern of news coverage during the
previous month in the mix of newspapers, network television news, and news magazines
available to them.2 Since that initial study during the 1968 U.S. presidential election,
more than 300 hundred published studies worldwide have documented this influence of
the news media. It should be noted that this evidence encompasses a wide variety of
research designs, including numerous panel studies, time-series analyzes, and controlled
laboratory experiments.
To summarize the extent of this influence – and to facilitate comparisons from one
research setting to another – social scientists frequently calculate the correlation between
the ranking of issues on the media agenda and the ranking accorded those same issues on
the subsequent public agenda. This quantitative measure provides a substantial degree of
precision for our comparisons, much as a thermometer’s precise numbers are better than
simply saying it seems cooler today than it was yesterday. The vast majority of
comparisons between how issues are ranked on the media agenda and how the public
ranks the importance of these same issues yield correlations of +.50 or better.3 That
reflects a substantial degree of influence.
The original study of the agenda-setting influence of the news media, which was
conducted in Chapel Hill, examined a month during that 1968 U.S. presidential election.
Subsequent studies have examined much longer periods of time – for example, a year-
long, nine-wave panel study during the 1976 U.S. presidential election 4 – and found
similar evidence of strong agenda-setting effects among the public. A look at the entire
decade of the 1960s found a substantial correlation (+.78) between the patterns of
coverage in news magazines and the trends in public opinion reflected by responses to the
Gallup Poll’s question about the most important problem facing the country.5
Agenda-setting effects also have been found at the local level, and the evidence for
both national and local effects is found in a wide variety of settings around the world. In
Spain, unemployment and urban congestion were the major concerns of Pamplona, Spain,
residents in the spring of 1995. Comparisons of all six major concerns on the public
agenda with local news coverage in the preceding two weeks found a high degree of
correspondence. The match with the dominant local daily newspaper was +.90; with the
second Pamplona daily, +.72; and with television news, +.66.6
Agenda-setting at the community level also occurred in a 1986 Japanese mayoral
election.7 Voters in Machida City, a municipality of 320,000 residents in the Tokyo
metropolitan area, regarded welfare policies, urban facilities, and local taxes as the three
most important issues in the election. Comparison of the public agenda, which had seven
issues in all, with the coverage across a three-week period of the four major newspapers
serving Machida City yielded a modest, but positive, correlation of +.39.
In Argentina, agenda-setting effects were found in the 1997 legislative elections in the
Buenos Aires metropolitan area.8 Corruption was prominent on both the public and media
agendas throughout the fall, always ranking first or second. But in September there was
only modest overall agreement (+.43) between the public agenda and the combined issue
agenda of five major Buenos Aires newspapers. However, as election day approached in
October, the correspondence between the agendas soared to +.80, an increase that
suggests considerable learning from the news media in the closing weeks of the election
Returning to the national level, in the U.K. during the final decade of the 20th century
(1990-2000) there was significant correspondence (+.54) between public concern about
international issues and the pattern of international coverage in The Times. 9
In sum, the news media have a substantial influence on the content of the public
agenda, and the phrase “setting the agenda” has become commonplace in discussions of
journalism and public opinion.
Influencing the pictures in our heads
The agenda-setting influence of the news media is not limited to this initial step of
focusing public attention on a particular topic. The media also influence the next step in
the communication process, our understanding and perspective on the topics in the news.
If you think about the agenda in abstract terms, the potential for a broader view of media
influence on public opinion becomes very clear. In the abstract, the items that define the
agenda are objects. For all the agendas we have discussed, the objects are public issues,
but they could be other items or topics, such as the agenda of political candidates during
an election. The objects are the things on which the attention of the media and the public
are focused.
In turn, each of these objects has numerous attributes, those characteristics and traits
that describe the object. For each object there also is an agenda of attributes because
when the media and the public think and talk about an object, some attributes are
emphasized, others are given less attention, and many receive no attention at all. This
agenda of attributes is another aspect of the agenda-setting role of the news media.
To borrow Walter Lippmann’s phrase, “the pictures in our heads,” the agenda of
issues or other objects presented by the news media influence what the pictures in our
heads are about. The agenda of attributes presented for each of these issues, public
figures, or other objects literally influences the pictures themselves that we hold in mind.
Images held by the public of political candidates and other public figures are the most
obvious examples of attribute agenda-setting by the news media. During the 1996 general
election in Spain, the descriptions by voters in Navarra of the three major party leaders
showed considerable correspondence with the media’s presentation of these men.10 For
the local newspapers, the median match with the local voters’ descriptions was +.70; for
the national newspapers, +.81; for national television, +.54.
Similar matches between the imagery of the news media and the images in the public
mind have been found in U.S. national elections. Comparison of New York Democrats'
descriptions of the contenders for their party’s presidential nomination in 1976 with the
agenda of attributes presented in Newsweek's early January sketches of these 11 men
found significant evidence of media influence.11 Especially compelling in this evidence is
that the correspondence between the news agenda of attributes and the voter agenda of
attributes increased from +.64 in mid-February to +.83 in late March. Voters not only
learned the media's agenda, but with some additional exposure over the weeks of the
primaries they learned it even better.
Turning to a very different political and cultural setting, the voters' images of the three
candidates for mayor of Taipei were compared with the descriptions of these men by the
local newspapers and TV stations. 12 The agenda of attributes included 12 categories
representing a wide variety of personal and political attributes. Comparisons of the voters'
images with the agenda of attributes in the China Times and United Daily News ranged
from +.59 to +.75. The median value of these six comparisons (3 candidates x 2
newspapers) was +.68. None of the comparisons with TV news were significant, no
doubt because the voters were well aware that all three television stations at that time
were under the direct domination of the government and long-ruling KMT political party.
This is a specific evidence in support of the general observation that the appearance of
agenda-setting effects requires the existence of reasonably free and open media and
political systems.
There also are examples of attribute agenda-setting for public issues. The aspects of
issues selected for attention by the media influence the public’s perception of these
issues. Nationally, during the 2000 presidential election in the U.S., the correspondence
between the news media’s presentation of social welfare and the way in which U.S.
voters talked about this issue was +.60.13
For a very different set of issues, the environment, the results are very similar. For
global environmental problems, there was a strong level of correspondence (+.78)
between the presentation of this issue in Japanese newspapers and the way that Tokyo
residents thought about eight aspects of this issue.14 For an environmental situation in the
U.S., there was a similarly strong level of correspondence (+.71) between the pictures in
people’s minds and local newspaper coverage on six aspects of a project to develop a
large man-made lake in central Indiana.15
Which aspects of an issue are covered in the news – and the relative emphasis on these
various aspects of an issue -- makes a considerable difference in how people view that
issue. From the pattern of the total news coverage, the public learns what journalists
consider the important issues are and who the prominent public figures of the day are.
From the details of this coverage – the agenda of attributes presented by the news media
– the public forms its images and perspective about these issues and public figures.
Influencing the focus of public attention is a powerful role, but, arguably, influencing
the agenda of attributes for an issue or political figure is the epitome of political power.
Determining the way that an issue is framed – setting the ground rules for deliberation, if
you will – can significantly influence the ultimate outcome.
The public and the media
Although the influence of the media agenda can be substantial, it alone does not
determine the public agenda. Information and cues about object and attribute salience
provided by the news media are far from the only determinants of the public agenda. This
substantial influence of the news media has no way overturned or nullified the basic
assumption of democracy that the people at large have sufficient wisdom to determine the
course of their nation, their state, and their local communities. In particular, the people
are quite able to determine the basic relevance – to themselves and to the larger public
arena – of the topics and attributes advanced by the news media. The media set the
agenda only when citizens perceive their news stories as relevant.
The spectacular failure in the U.S. of the intensive news coverage on the Clinton-
Lewinsky scandal to set the public agenda and sway public opinion, an effort that failed
despite gargantuan and persistent coverage frequently described as “All Monica, all the
time,” speaks in a loud voice about the limits of media influence. Overwhelmingly, the
U.S. public rejected the relevance of that scandal as the basis of their opinion about the
president’s success or failure in governance.
The presence – or absence – of agenda-setting effects by the news media can be
explained by a basic psychological trait, our need for orientation. Innate within each one
of us is the need to understand the environment around us. Whenever we find ourselves
in a new situation, there is an uncomfortable psychological feeling until we explore and
mentally grasp at least the outlines of that setting. Recall, for example, your initial feeling
upon visiting a foreign city. This innate need for orientation also exists in the civic arena,
especially in those elections where citizens are faced with unfamiliar candidates or
referendum questions on which they are less than fully knowledgeable. In all these
situations, and many more, people experience a need for orientation.
Because it is a psychological trait, the degree of need for orientation varies greatly
from one individual to another. For some individuals in any situation, there is a high need
for orientation. For other individuals, there is little or no need for orientation at all. They
just aren’t interested. Need for orientation is defined by two components: relevance and
uncertainty. Relevance is the initial defining condition that determines the level of need
for orientation for each individual. If a topic is perceived as irrelevant – or very low in
relevance – then the need for orientation is low. Individuals in this situation pay little or
no attention to news media reports and, at most, demonstrate weak agenda-setting effects.
For individuals among whom the relevance of a topic is high, their degree of
uncertainty about the topic determines the level of need for orientation. If this uncertainty
is low, that is, they feel that they basically understand the topic, then the need for
orientation is moderate. These individuals – for whom a situation has high relevance and
low uncertainty – will monitor the media for new developments and perhaps occasionally
dip into a bit of additional background information. But they are not likely to be avid
consumers of news reports about the topic. Agenda-setting effects among this group are
Finally, among individuals for whom both the relevance and their uncertainty about a
situation are high, need for orientation is high. These individuals typically are avid
consumers of the news, and strong agenda-setting effects typically are found among these
Table One illustrates two patterns that vary according to individuals’ levels of need for
orientation: attention to the news and agenda-setting effects. Both frequent use of the
news media to follow an election and the agenda-setting effects of the news media on the
perceived importance of the issues steadily increase with the level of need for orientation
among members of the public.16
Table One: Need for Orientation Effects
Level of Need for Orientation
Low Moderate High
Frequent users of newspapers, TV and 54% 63% 74%
news magazines for political information
Agenda-setting effect of TV (Issue agenda) +.05 +.41 +.55
Agenda-setting effect of newspapers +.29 +.59 +.68
(Issue agenda)
When the news media do provide information that citizens find relevant and useful in
coming to a decision about how to cast their ballots, there is a substantial audience – and
there is substantial media influence on the priorities that citizens assign to the issues of
the day.
Consequences of Agenda-Setting
Attitudes and behavior are usually governed by cognitions – what a person knows,
thinks, believes. Hence, the agenda-setting function of the mass media implies a
potentially massive influence whose full dimensions and consequences have yet to
be investigated and appreciated.17
To begin at the beginning, the salience of objects in the mass media is linked to the
formation of opinions by the audience. With the increasing salience of public figures in
the news, for example, more people move away from a neutral position and form an
opinion about these persons. An examination of US presidential candidates in all five
elections between 1980 and 1996 found exceedingly strong correlations between the
pattern of media emphasis, which varied widely across these elections, and the number of
citizens who expressed ambivalent opinions about the candidates by checking the mid-
point of various rating scales.18 Twenty of the 24 comparisons between media salience
and opinions about a candidate as measured in the National Election Study were
significant with a median value of -.90. Note that these correlations are negative because
high salience for a candidate in the media was associated with a low number of people
selecting the neutral mid-point on the rating scales.
Analogous links have been found between issue salience and people’s attitudes. In the
German state of Baden-Wurttemberg, the personal salience of two major issues, the
reunification of East and West Germany and East German migrants, was strongly linked
to both the strength and direction of personal opinions.19 For the strength of opinion on
both issues, personal salience was a far stronger predictor than media exposure or
demographic characteristics. For the direction of opinion, personal salience was a slightly
stronger predictor than age for German reunification and only slightly weaker predictor
than education (and equal to the use of television) for East German migrants.
Priming Public Opinion
By far the best documented consequence of object and issue salience is the priming of
perspectives that subsequently guide the public’s opinions about public figures.
By calling attention to some matters while ignoring others, television news [as well
as the other news media] influences the standards by which governments,
presidents, policies, and candidates for public office are judged.20
The psychological basis of priming is the selective attention of the public. People do not,
indeed, can not, pay attention to everything. Moreover, in making judgments – whether in
casting a ballot on election day or simply in responding to a pollster’s question – people
use simple rules of thumb and intuitive shortcuts.21 Rather than engaging in a
comprehensive analysis based on their total store of information, citizens routinely draw
upon those bits of information that are particularly salient at the time judgment must be
rendered.22 In other words, citizens rely upon the agenda of salient objects and attributes
in their minds, the agenda that is shaped to a considerable degree by the mass media.
An extensive series of agenda-setting experiments conducted by Shanto Iyengar and
Donald Kinder produced significant evidence of a priming effect by television news on
people’s opinions about the president’s overall performance in office.23 Among subjects
exposed to extensive news coverage on one or more of five different issues – defense,
inflation, arms control, civil rights, and unemployment -- their ratings of presidential
performance on the issue or issues receiving heavy news coverage influenced their
overall opinion about the president’s performance more than among persons not exposed
to this news coverage. This influence existed whether or not the news story implied a
substantial degree of presidential responsibility for the issue. In subsequent experiments
where the degree of presidential responsibility for an issue was explicitly manipulated,
the impact of problem performance ratings on opinions about the president’s overall
performance was greater when the news stories emphasized presidential responsibility.
Turning to a very different setting, public opinion about Hong Kong’s last British
governor was strongly influenced by news coverage on his proposals to broaden public
participation in the election of the Legislative Council.24 Tracked in 52 consecutive
weekly polls from the fall of 1992 when the governor made his initial policy speech,
public opinion about his overall performance was significantly primed by the pattern of
news coverage on his reform proposals in Hong Kong’s three leading newspapers.
Both the distinction and link between traditional agenda-setting effects and priming as
a consequence of these effects is illustrated by American public opinion regarding the
Persian Gulf War.25 Extensive television coverage resulted in the high salience of the war
on the public agenda as the most important problem facing the country, a traditional first-
level agenda-setting effect. Analyses of public opinion about President Bush from 1988
to 1991 further indicated a shift in the basis of his popularity from economics to foreign
policy, a priming effect. And demonstrating the effects of attribute agenda-setting on
opinions, members of the public who reported higher levels of exposure to television
news, which emphasized military options in its framing of the war, favored a military
rather than a diplomatic solution in the Persian Gulf.
This priming effect also occurs for political parties. Among German voters, political
party preference during 1986 was influenced by the television news agenda.26 Preference
for the Christian Democrats was substantially influenced by news coverage of two issues,
the energy supply and East German situation. Preference for the SPD was influenced by
three issues, East-West relations, environmental protection, and pensions. Similar
patterns were observed in the weekly opinion polls for other political parties. Although
the overall pattern is one in which issues on the television news agenda resonated in
unique ways with political partisanship, the general finding is that salient issues on the
media agenda were strongly linked with shifts in political partisanship during the year.
Attribute Agenda-Setting and Tone
Mass communication effects can result from the sheer volume of exposure. First level
agenda-setting effects demonstrate that phenomenon. But as both attribute agenda-setting
and priming demonstrate, closer attention to the specific content of mass media messages
– including the tone of those messages – provides a more detailed understanding of the
pictures in our heads and of subsequent attitudes and opinions grounded in those pictures.
In Germany, the tone of the news about Helmut Kohl in news magazines and major
newspapers influenced public opinion between 1975 and 1984 about his political
performance, first, as leader of the opposition and, later, as chancellor.27 Shifting patterns
of positive and negative tone in the media, summed across six attributes of Kohl,
prompted significant shifts in his level of approval among the German public. The
median correlation between the affective tone of six news media’s attribute agendas and
subsequent public opinion with a lag time of six months was +.48.
In the US, a day-by-day observation of the final three months in the 1992 and 1996
presidential elections found that the tone of television news coverage about key campaign
events influenced voters’ preference for the candidates.28 Favorable coverage of
Republican campaign events on four national television networks increased support for
the Republican candidate. Conversely, favorable coverage of Democrat campaign events
decreased support for the Republican candidate. The strength of these media effects on
voters’ opinions was similar in the two years.
Effects of tone are not limited to attitudes and opinions about political leaders.
Negative newspaper headlines about the economy influence the public’s perceptions
about the health of the economy.29 In turn, these opinions become self-fulfilling
prophecies as people adjust their behavior to fit their beliefs. Comparisons of economic
headlines in the New York Times, monthly measures of consumer sentiment about the
health of the economy, and major monthly statistical indicators of the actual economy
from 1980 through 1993 found a series of significant effects.
Media Coverage and Behavior
The salience of issues and other topics on the media agenda also influences observable
behavior. Extensive news coverage of crime and violence, including a murder and rapes,
on the University of Pennsylvania campus a few years ago contributed to a significant
drop in applications by potential first-year students, according to the university’s dean of
admissions.30 This decline occurred predominantly among women. Moreover, other
comparable universities experienced an increase in applications during the same period.
Another example of media influence on the behavior of young adults is Harvard
University’s successful use of entertainment television programming to spread the idea of
“the designated driver,” that member of a party group who abstains from drinking in
order to safely drive his or her friends home afterward.31
A 1988 Indiana Poll brought together all these aspects of agenda-setting and its
consequences.32 Replicating a familiar pattern, the salience among the public of a major
issue of that time, the US federal budget deficit, was significantly correlated with the
frequency of exposure to both newspapers and television news. In turn, issue salience in
conjunction with use of both newspapers and television news predicted public opinion
about a possible solution to the problem as well as what people knew about the issue.
Further, issue salience in conjunction with use of a single medium, television news,
predicted the strength of people’s opinions while issue salience in combination with
newspaper reading predicted actual behavior, such as writing a letter or attending a
meeting. Here in a single setting is evidence of significant relationships between media
exposure and issue salience and of subsequent effects by both on knowledge, opinions
and observable behavior.
Summing Up
The pictures in people’s minds about the outside world are significantly influenced by the
mass media, both what those pictures are about and what those pictures are. The agenda-
setting effects of the mass media also have significant implications beyond the pictures
created in people’s heads. In the original, traditional domain of agenda-setting, the
salience of public issues, there is considerable evidence that the shifting salience of issues
on the media agenda often are the basis for public opinion about the overall performance
in office of a public leader. In turn, the salience of a leader in the news also is linked with
whether an individual holds any opinion at all. At the second level of agenda-setting, the
salience of affective attributes intertwined with the public’s cognitive pictures of these
leaders represents the convergence of attribute agenda-setting with opinion formation and
change. Beyond attitudes and opinions, the pictures of reality created by the mass media
have implications for personal behaviors, ranging from college applications to voting on
election day.
1 Walter Lippmann, Public opinion. New York: Macmillan, 1922, p.29.
2 Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw, The agenda-setting function of mass media,
Public Opinion Quarterly, 36, 1972, 176-187.
3 Wayne Wanta and Salma Ghanem, Effects of agenda-setting. In Meta-analyses of media
effects, Jennings Bryant and Rodney Carveth, eds. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum:
4 David Weaver, Doris Graber, Maxwell McCombs and Chaim Eyal, Media Agenda
Setting in a Presidential Election: Issues, Images and Interest Greenwood, Westport, CT,
5 Ray Funkhouser, The issues of the sixties, Public Opinion Quarterly, 37, 1973, 62-75.
6 Maria Jose Canel, Juan Pablo Llamas, and Federico Rey, Federico, ‘El primer nivel del
efecto agenda setting en la informacion local: Los 'problemas mas importantes" de la
ciudad de Pamplona’. [‘The first level agenda setting effect on local information: The
‘most important problems’ of the city of Pamplona’.] Comunicacion y Sociedad, 9, 1&2
(1996), pp.17-38.
7 Toshio Takeshita, ‘Agenda-setting effects of the press in a Japanese local election’,
Studies of Broadcasting, 29 (1993), pp.193-216.
8 Federico Rey Lennon, ‘Argentina: 1997 elecciones. Los diarios nacionales y la campana
electoral.’ [‘The 1997 Argentina election. The national dailies and the electoral
campaign’.] Report by The Freedom Forum and Austral University, 1998.
9 Stuart N. Soroka, ‘Media, public opinion, and foreign policy’. Paper presented to the
American Political Science Association, San Francisco, 2001.
10 Maxwell McCombs, Esteban Lopez-Escobar and Juan Pablo Llamas, Setting the
agenda of attributes in the 1996 Spanish general election, Journal of Communication, 50
(2), 2000, 77-92.
11 Lee Becker and Maxwell McCombs, The role of the press in determining voter
reactions to presidential primaries, Human Communication Research, 4 (1978), pp.301-
12 Pu-tsung King, The press, candidate images, and voter perceptions in Communication
and Democracy, eds. Maxwell McCombs, Donald Shaw and David Weaver. Mahwah,
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997, pp.29-40.
14 Shunji Mikami, Toshio Takeshita, Makoto Nakada and Miki Kawabata, ‘The media
coverage and public awareness of environmental issues in Japan’. Paper presented to the
International Association for Mass Communication Research. Seoul, Korea,1994.
15 David Cohen, ‘A report on a non-election agenda setting study’. Paper presented to the
Association for Education in Journalism. Ottawa, Canada, 1975.
16 David Weaver, Political issues and voter need for orientation. In The emergence of
American political issues, Donald Shaw and Maxwell McCombs, eds. St. Paul, MN:
West, 1977. Pp.107-119.
17 Eugene F. Shaw, ‘Agenda-setting and mass communication theory’, Gazette, 25, 2
(1979), p.101.
18 Spiro Kiousis, ‘Beyond salience: Exploring the linkages between the agenda setting
role of mass media and mass persuasion’. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University
of Texas at Austin, 2000.
19 Patrick Rossler and Michael Schenk, ‘Cognitive bonding and the German reunification:
Agenda-setting and persuasion effects of mass media’, International Journal of Public
Opinion Research, 12, 1 (2000), pp.29-47.
20 Iyengar and Kinder, News That Matters, p.63. Although the evidence reported in this
book concerns only television news, the bracketed words “and the other news media” was
inserted because there is substantial evidence that all the news media can prime
judgments of public performance.
21 Popkin, The Reasoning Voter.
22 A classic presentation of heuristic information processing is Amos Tversky and Daniel
Kahneman, ‘Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability’, Cognitive
Psychology, 5 (1973), pp.207-232.
23 Iyengar and Kinder, News That Matters, Chapters 7-11.
24 Lars Willnat and Jian-Hua Zhu, ‘Newpaper coverage and public opinion in Hong
Kong: A time-series analysis of media priming’, Political Communication, 13 (1996),
25 Shanto Iyengar and Adam Simon, ‘News coverage of the Gulf crisis and
public opinion: A study of agenda-setting, priming and framing’ in Do the media govern?
Politicians, voters, and reporters in America, eds., Shanto Iyengar and Richard Reeves
(Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA, 1997), pp.248-257.
26 Hans-Bernd Brosius and Hans Mathias Kepplinger, ‘Beyond agenda setting: The
influence of partianship and television reporting on the electorate’s voting intentions’,
Journalism Quarterly, 69 (1992), pp.893-901.
27 Hans Mathias Kepplinger, Wolfgang Donsbach, Hans Bernd Brosius and Joachim
Friedrich Staab, ‘Media tone and public opinion: A longitudinal study of media coverage
and public opinion on Chancellor Kohl’, International Journal of Public Opinion
Research, 1 (1989), pp.326-342.
28 Daron Shaw, ‘The impact of news media favorability and candidate events in
presidential campaigns’, Political Communication, 16 (1999), pp,183-202.
29 Deborah J. Blood and Peter C.B. Phillips, ‘Economic headline news on the agenda:
New approaches to understanding causes and effects’ in Communication and Democracy,
eds. McCombs, Shaw and Weaver, pp.97-114.
30 Philadelphia Inquirer, December 27, 1996, pp.A1&18.
31 New York Times, January 17, 1989, p.22.
32David Weaver, ‘Issue salience and public opinion: Are there consequences of agenda-
setting?’, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 3 (1991), pp.53-68.
... This theory was propounded by Maxwell McCombs andDonald L. Shaw in 1972/1973. The major assumption of the Agenda setting theory as presented by Anaeto et al (2021) is that the media the facts media audiences know about public issues are those that the media presented to media audience that is the media set agenda for public discussion. ...
... These everyday cues effectively communicate the importance of each issue. Stated differently, the news media has the power to shape public opinion by selecting and presenting stories that interest them (McCombs, 2003). ...
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Understanding the elements that affect people's compliance with preventative measures has become essential for public health activities in the aftermath of the global Covid-19 epidemic. This study looks into how readers' compliance behaviours with Covid-19 preventive measures are influenced by newspaper coverage. The study adopts a quantitative research approach, using surveys and statistical analyses to assess the link between newspaper coverage and readers' compliance with Covid-19 prevention guidelines, using both Agenda Setting theory and the KAP model. The questionnaire was used to test participants' understanding of preventative measures, exposure to Covid-19 news coverage, and compliance with suggested guidelines. The study discovered that during the pandemic, newspapers had a substantial influence on readers in preventing the virus's spread. The findings shed light on the role of newspapers in shaping public behaviour during a health crisis and inform communication strategies to promote effective preventive practices. Ultimately, the study provided actionable insights for policy-makers, journalists, and health professionals to enhance public health outcomes and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases. The results provide insight into how newspapers affect public behaviour during a health emergency and provide guidance for communication methods to support successful preventative measures.
... The reference mode to be used in this study will be based on the dataset used by Vosoughi et al. (2018) [25]. The dataset contains English language tweets collected from 2008 to 2016 with varying degrees of veracity (True, False, Mixed) on different topics (Politics, Business, Science and Tech., etc.) and claims. ...
The problem of false news online has continued to worsen, especially after witnessing significant events around the world unfold, such as the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, COVID-19 pandemic, to the 2021 January 6th Insurrection at the US Capitol. False information online has distorted online users’ perception of the real world. As daily life is more intertwined with the digital world, false news becomes a more urgent concern because of the way it can shape public opinion. This study presents a rumor propagation model, which was based on epidemiological models, to address the spread of false news on social networking sites. The existing model was expanded on the STELLA software to consider the cognitive process of users when encountering false news, the platform in which the false news spreads, and the relationship of false news with online users. Simulations showed that Confirmation Bias, Sharing of Posts, and Algorithmic Ranking were the three critical variables of the model. It was found that possible interventions include a mix of reducing the bias of users at a wide-scale level and restructuring the SNS algorithm.
... 6 According to McCombs & Shah "the nature of the relationship between media agenda-setting and the respondents' involvement in interpersonal communication is less clear." [7][8] Some studies report that interpersonal communication reduces agenda-setting effects, while "others find that interpersonal communication enhances media effect." 9 On the other hand, Lasorsa and wanta were of the view that interpersonal communication does not have any effect on the agenda setting process. ...
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The study was meant to tap the role and impact for interpersonal communication in agenda setting effects among viewers of cable channels on obtrusive and non-obtrusive issues by using mix method strategy. For content analysis, two elite cable channels; Express and Geo News were selected to check the coverage patterns of the media. By using random sampling techniques, the data was further delimited to news bulletins of 9.00 p.m. and talk shows of 10.00 p.m. for one year. 500 viewers based in Islamabad were asked to rank the most to least discussed issues of the country from a given list of seven issues. Energy crisis, corruption, law and order, were obtrusive issues while memo gate, democratic process, National Reconciliation Ordinance and Pak-US relations were unobtrusive issues. The results reveal that interpersonal communications do have a premier place for reinforcement and furthering the media agenda. The strong impact has been observed to reinforce the people in discussing the obtrusive issues irrespective of the coverage patterns of the media. The more discussed issue was energy crisis while it was fourth and sixth, in terms of coverage, on Geo and Express News respectively. Law and order was remained as second most discussed issue. Third most discussed issue was corruption among seven issues. Results show that all the three obtrusive issues were remained in top three among seven issues while democratic process in spite of maximum coverage remained at place fifth in terms of most discussed issues. Theory of agenda setting was applied to verify the assumptions of the study.
... The media has the power to set the agenda and focus audience attention on key issues. This influences how people perceive and discuss political issues, as well as their behavior (McCombs, 2013;Whannel, 2006;Griffin, 2012). Agenda Setting is also influenced by people's orientation needs and their perception of the relevance and uncertainty of issues (Wu & Coleman, 2009;Valenzuela, 2011). ...
This article examines the role of social media and journalistic media in presidential electoral processes. A systematic review of scientific articles published from 2012 to 2022 was conducted. The results indicate that the media has a significant influence on public perception and the political agenda during election campaigns. Furthermore, the importance of evaluating political leaders in the voters' decision-making process is emphasized. In summary, the article provides valuable insights into how the media can shape the narrative and public opinion during presidential elections.
Child marriage, specifically the marriage of underage girls, is a crucial social problem that cuts across religions and cultures and can be considered as violence against children and women. Currently, the media is one of the strongest public spheres to combat this problem apart from national and international laws and agreements. This study aims to analyse how the child marriage problem is represented in the Turkish print media within the framework of feminist theory. The analysis is based on 246 news reports related to child marriages. The study found that even though the issue has been identified as a problem in the Turkish print media, it has not come to the forefront. Rather, the newspapers have normalized the issue of underage marriage, especially through the use of language.
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This study investigates the role of FM radio stations in promoting civic awareness in Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. It examines the historical development of radio in the region, the impact of the Civil War era on broadcasting, and the subsequent shift towards decentralization and independent media after 2001. The study has outlined the current state of radio broadcasting in Afghanistan, including notable FM radio stations and accessibility through digital platforms. The research paper explores the impact of FM radios in spreading education and social awareness, with a special focus on Nargis Radio's role in empowering Afghan women. The data has been collected through structured questionnaires and focused group discussions with the theoretical perspective on media's role in civic education. The results reveal respondents' perceptions and experiences, highlighting FM radios' significant contributions to civic education and community engagement.
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The general objective of the study was to investigate Nigerian newspaper reports of domestic violence in Nigeria. Specifically, the study determined: the volume of coverage of domestic violence stories; story sources; frames used in reportage; and themes employed in the articles. Three daily Nigerian newspapers were purposively selected for the research, namely, the Daily Sun, the Guardian, and the Vanguard newspapers. A total of 252 editions of these newspapers were analysed using the composite week sampling technique from January to December 2017. Coverage for each newspaper includes Daily Sun 7 (21%), The Guardian 14(42%), and Vanguard 12(36%). These show that 33 stories on domestic violence were covered from the 252 editions sampled, indicating a low volume of coverage. This illustrates that domestic violence is an under-reported crime in Nigeria. This further indicates that the depth of coverage was substandard with zero emphases made on educating the audience on the dangers of domestic violence to society. Other findings include nine stories and sources reportage of domestic violence. These include; neighbours 8(24%), victim's families/friends 5(15%), police 5(15%), victims 4(12%), perpetrators 3(9%), government agencies 3(9%), court 3(9%), NGOs 1(3%) and unspecified sources 1(3%). Furthermore, five types of frames are used for reporting domestic violence in Nigerian newspapers. These include among others, human interest frame 17(52%), conflict frame 9(27%), responsibility frame 4(12%), consequence frame 2(6%) and morality frame 1(3%). Based on the findings, five recommendations were made, including that the content and language adopted in the report should call out domestic violence for what it is, placing the blame where it belongs.
This chapter offers a systematic examination of existing scholarly explanations for the emergence and sustenance of terroristic violence through six explanatory frameworks: psychological dimensions, religious dimensions, strategic dynamics, cultural/civilisational contexts, political contexts and economic dimensions. This chapter also sets out the prevailing literature as it relates to the specific stakeholders of terrorism: US mainstream media, ISIS and individual actors/lone wolf. This chapter illustrates how it has been established in the exiting literature that there are numerous causes, impacts and benefits associated with terrorism activism; however, the prevailing literature does not sufficiently or explicitly, systematically or consistently emphasise the inherent duality as it pertains to the related themes associated with the specific explanatory frameworks in relation to terrorism-related activism. The chapter further highlights this as it relates to the specific stakeholders of terrorism—like, for instance, the US mainstream media wide-ranging debates and extensive literature on the US media in relation to terrorism focuses primarily on the media’s symbiotic relationship (between the media and terrorists), framing, packaging, presenting, Orwellian-style coverage, among others, however, it does not explicitly or systematically stress or reinforce the existence of an inherent duality, a multiplicity of negatives and positives simultaneously present in most situations concerning terrorism, in this case, the US mainstream media’s coverage of terrorism. The same for the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and lone wolf/individual actors in which the prevailing literature extensively examines the former emergence, brutal terroristic violence, proficient use of social media, its criminalised war economy, source of revenue, among other things and the latter’s most salient causes, impacts and even the benefits that some lone wolf/individual actors might garner from their engagement in terrorism activism. Howbeit, the literature similar to the existing literature on the US mainstream media in relation to terrorism-activism, does not sufficiently, or explicitly, and neither systematically stresses the existence of an inherent duality as it relates to ISIS’s and lone wolf/individual actors’ engagement in terrorism-activism.KeywordsDefining terrorismPsychologyReligionStrategyCulture/civilisationPoliticsEconomicsISISLone wolfIndividual actorsUS mainstream media
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Este estudio constituye, por una parte, una investigación pionera en España sobre la teoría de la agenda-setting en su "primer nivel", con un análisis detallado de los tipos de temas de la agenda, y una exploración de cómo las variables "educación", "consumo de medios", "sexo" e "ideología" marcan diferencias en los efectos que los medios tienen en la opinión pública. Por otro lado, al tiempo que se confirma la teoría, quedan sugeridas perspectivas de investigación que se exponen en otros artículos de este volumen.
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Based on the psychological model of media priming, we examine the potentially strong link between news content and public opinion about Governor Patten's democratization plan for Hong Kong. Similar to previous priming studies, we hypothesized that an increase in the amount of media coverage of Patten's political reform plan would cause the public to assign more weight to the issue when evaluating the governor's overall performance. To validate the priming hypothesis in a nonexperimental setting, this study uses time-series data obtained from 52 weekly public opinion polls, coupled with content analysis of three leading newspapers in Hong Kong between October 1992 and October 1993. The findings provide strong evidence supporting the media priming theory on an aggregate data level. Newspaper coverage of Patten's reform plan greatly inflated the relative importance of his proposal in the public's evaluation of his overall performance, with a 1-week delay. The priming hypothesis survived a stringent test of several rival factors, including autocorrelation, the influence of the economy, and other important real-world events.
A conceptual scheme has been presented to examine media influence during the presidential primary season. The scheme, a byproduct of research on the role of the press in setting the public issue agenda, allows for an examination of media effects on what has been labeled the cognitive components of candidate image. Data from a longitudinal study conducted in upstate New York in the spring of 1976 are used to empirically test the conceptual framework. The data are interpreted to indicate that indeed there is a great deal of flux in certain aspects of public opinion during the presidential primary season. The media are seen as partial determinants of that flux.
This study explores the effects of the media agenda on partisanship of (former) West German voters using time series analyses, data from major television news programs were compared with data from representative surveys that asked about vote intentions. Results show that media — by putting issues in the public spotlight, as described by Walter Lippmann in the 1920s — can influence party preferences. Issue salience in the media seems to have a positive influence on preferences for small parties, but a negative influence on major party preferences.
This article documents three types of media effects that operated on public opinion during the Persian Gulf crisis and war. First, the level of network news coverage matched the proportion of Gallup poll respondents naming the Gulf crisis as the nation's most important problem (agenda-setting). Second, use of data from the 1988, 1990, and 1991 National Election Studies (NES) shows that the weight respondents accorded foreign policy performance when evaluating George Bush significantly increased (priming) in the aftermath of the Gulf crisis. Third, content data (showing that network news coverage was preoccupied with military affairs and highly event oriented) and survey data are coupled to show that respondents reporting higher rates of exposure to television news expressed greater support for a military as opposed to a diplomatic response to the crisis (framing). In conclusion, it is suggested that these effects, in combination with the nature of the media's information sources, were conducive to legitimizing the administration's perspective on the crisis.
Recent studies have suggested that agenda-setting may influence not only what we think about, but also what we think. This study examines the correlations between the salience of one issue (the federal budget deficit) and public knowledge, opinion, and behavior, using fall 1988 survey data. It finds statistically significant correlations between issue salience and knowledge about the deficit issue, strength and direction of opinion regarding one possible solution to the issue, and political behavior related to the issue. These correlations remain statistically significant in multiple regression analyses where demographics and media exposure and attention measures are controlled simultaneously and in hierarchical blocks. Taken together, the findings reported here suggest that increased salience of the deficit issue was accompanied by increased knowledge of its possible causes and solutions, stronger opinions, less likelihood of taking a neutral position, and more likelihood of participating in politics through such behavior as signing petitions, voting, attending meetings, and writing letters.
Although campaigns are the most obvious means by which American voters receive information about candidates and issues, there is strong resistance to the notion that they influence presidential elections. Recent analyses, however, argue that campaign events can produce statistically significant alterations in the aggregate distribution of voters' preferences. This study examines presidential campaign effects in the 1992 and 1996 U.S. elections and features three departures from previous studies: (a) a clearer understanding of campaigning and candidate events, facilitating a more precise idea of what is being tested; (b) detailed data on television and newspaper coverage of the campaign, allowing the measurement of news media effects; and (c) time series data on candidate support that have been purged of undesirable statistical properties. The main hypothesis is that the interaction between events and the favorability of news media coverage drives much of the change in voters' preferences. The data show that these interactive effects were often significant, especially the favorability of television coverage. They further suggest, however, that other factors also influenced voters, including, most probably, other types of media effects.