Wayne Wanta and Mariam Alkazemi

10Journalism as Agenda Setting

Abstract: The concept of agenda setting has received extensive attention from researchers through the past five decades. While early studies found strong support for the influence of the news media on the perceived importance of issues held by the pubic, researchers have examined several aspects of the concept, including investigations of the source of the media agenda and the possible outcomes of the agenda setting process. Agenda setting continues to be studied through the internet and social media, demonstrating its flexibility as a mass communication theory. It also has evolved from an original conceptualization as a cognitive effect to include attitudinal and behavioral influences.

Keywords: Media Effects, Agenda Setting, Political Communication

The agenda setting function of the press has been documented in hundreds of studies. Research has consistently found that the frequency of issues covered in the news can have a profound effect on the issue priorities held by the public. In this way, the news media highlight important issues of the day, and the news consumers process these salience cues in determining what they perceive to be the most important issues within a society.

This media effect can have significant consequences. Agenda setting suggests that media coverage influences discussion among members of the public and governmental legislators. This process can ultimately lead to policy directed to correct the issue/problem.

An example can illustrate this process. A newspaper could publish a series of stories dealing with why we need strict gun control laws. Members of the public would be exposed to these stories either through direct exposure or through indirect interpersonal communication with individuals who have seen the stories. The effect on individuals would not be a change in attitudes – people would not be convinced that we need strict gun control laws. Instead, the effect would cause individuals to think that gun control must be an important issue.

1Branches of agenda-setting research

Since the seminal study by McCombs and Shaw (1972) during the 1968 US presidential election, hundreds of studies have made many refinements to agenda setting. The refinements can be placed into several categories. While almost all previous agenda-setting research has begun with the idea proposed in the initial agenda setting hypothesis – that news media coverage influences the perceived importance of issues held by the public – studies have diverged into six branches.

1.1Branch 1: Contingent conditions

Early agenda-setting studies suggested the media had a societal effect. Research looked at a range of issues mentioned by survey respondents in response to the question “What is the number one problem facing our country today?” These studies used aggregated data with the analysis centered on issues rather than on respondents. This allowed researchers to generalize to individuals within a society, thus testing agenda setting as a societal effect.

But even the early researchers admitted that the agenda-setting effect would not influence all individuals to the same degree. The magnitude of the agenda-setting effect could be impacted by many factors. These factors could be found both within individuals and within issues.

First, the agenda-setting effect can manifest in individuals to different extents. For example, interest in a given topic can influence the magnitude to which salience of an issue is transferred from the media to the public agenda. While some individuals who are more interested in political issues can actually demonstrate a high agenda-setting effect, others can have more developed defense mechanisms that moderate it (Wanta 1997). These individuals can be more critical of the priorities of the political issues in the media, regardless of their level of media exposure (Wanta 1997). Therefore, varying levels of interest in a topic covered by the media can explain varying strength of the agenda-setting effect.

Individuals can also vary in their need for orientation, which describes the degree to which an individual requires background information about a topic covered by the media (Weeks & Southwell 2010). Individuals often turn to the media to satisfy this need for orientation, thus strengthening the agenda setting effect among those with a strong need for orientation (Wanta & Wu 1992). In fact, the agenda-setting effect can be strengthened when interpersonal communication about a topic discussed in the media occurs (Wanta & Wu 1992). In this case, the interpersonal communication acts as a reinforcement of the media agenda, allowing individuals to be exposed to the media agenda twice.

Second, the transfer of issue salience varies in magnitude depending on the issue. For example, Yagade and Dozier (1990) found that some issues, such as nuclear arms, can be too abstract for individuals to visualize due to the complexity of information – especially when compared to concrete issues, like drug abuse. The magnitude of abstract issue salience does not transfer from the media to the public agenda as effectively as concrete issues. Individuals are less affected by media coverage if they cannot picture the issue in their heads.

Similarly, some issues affect individuals regardless of the media coverage. These obtrusive issues can be contrasted to unobtrusive issues, which are more likely to be learned from the mass media than experienced first-hand. For example, Craft and Wanta (2004) found that some obtrusive issues that individuals can personally experience are higher on the public agenda than the media agenda. Further, their findings reveal that the Middle East conflict was higher on the media agenda than on the public agenda – likely because the news coverage involved an issue that most US news consumers are less likely to experience. Therefore, the less obtrusive an issue is, the greater the magnitude of the transfer of its salience from the media to the public agenda.

Broadly, therefore, some characteristics of individuals and issues influence the magnitude of the agenda-setting effect. The agenda-setting effect is stronger among individuals with a high need for orientation but lower for people with high levels of interest. Some of the key mechanisms underlying the contingent conditions of the agenda-setting effect include characteristics of people and issues. Demographic variables, including level of education, age, and income, can explain the strength of the agenda-setting effect. Moreover, issues that are less abstract and less obtrusive are more likely to strengthen the agenda-setting effect.

1.2Branch 2: Sources of the media agenda

Early research has shown that the agenda of issues covered in the media can impact public perceptions. The second branch of research extends the original agenda-setting hypothesis by asking the question: “Where does the media agenda come from?” In other words, research in this category takes a step back in the communication process to examine influences on the news media before the media agenda is created and transmitted to the public. This area of research also has been referred to as “agenda building” (Lang & Lang 1983) in which the news media, public, and public officials form a three-way relationship, building issue salience between the three actors.

A series of studies examined whether US presidents could influence the news agenda through their State of the Union addresses. Indeed, if the news media are influenced by anyone, the US president would logically be one source given his stature as the nation’s number one newsmaker (Wanta et al. 1989). Findings were mixed, however. President Nixon appeared to have influenced media coverage after his State of the Union speech. President Carter reacted to news coverage prior to his speech. President Reagan led coverage by newspapers but reacted to coverage on network newscasts. The findings suggest other factors at play in the president–press relationship. The media may subsequently cover the main issue priorities of a president but ignore issues lower on the presidential agenda. Personalities of the presidents also could have impacted their relationships with the news media.

Of course, the US president isn’t the only potential source of the media agenda. A study conducted in Denmark (Hopmann et al. 2012) found evidence that political parties can impact media coverage. Relevance of party was a key factor in the agenda-building process, but the study also found a negative interaction between different parties’ press releases, suggesting that parties attempted to claim ownership on certain issues.

Party politics and the great number of legislators in the US Congress also can be a source for the media agenda – depending on the issue (Iyengar 2011). In an examination of the influence between the US congressional agenda and the media agenda, Tan and Weaver (2007) found that there is no relationship between congressional communication and the media agenda on obtrusive issues, such as crime. However, there tends to be a correlation between the congressional and media agenda when it comes to international issues. Therefore, the nature of issues can make Congress unlikely to set the media agenda in some cases.

Werder (2002) also found support for the influence of public officials on news coverage. In his comparison of news coverage of the introduction of the Euro in the UK and Germany, he found a relationship between a medium’s position, sources’ positions, story subissues, and effects. He attributed these differences to newspapers in the two countries having different worldviews.

Moreover, nations around the world do not have equal levels of media freedoms. In nations with limited press freedoms, governments exert a great deal of control over the media agendas. However, some political issues can slip past governmental filters. Political cartoons, for example, can lift controversial issues on the media agenda. Political cartoons can be ambiguous and humorous nature, thus escaping the scrutiny of the government (Alkazemi & Wanta 2015). Further, social media have been utilized to circumvent the government restrictions in these cases (Jacobson 2013).

However, even the media in nations with more press freedoms can rely on social media as a source of the media agenda. For example, Jacobson (2013) found that The Rachel Maddow Show used its Facebook page to request audience feedback about topics, and then most of these topics appeared in the broadcasted episode. By reinforcing the topics online and in broadcast, Jacobson (2013) argues that the media agenda and the public agenda of viewers of The Rachel Maddow Show are developed.

Many studies examine the perceived credibility of media among different audiences. In the 1980s, Rimmer and Weaver (1987) found that the perceived credibility of a medium is unrelated to its circulation or reach. Approximately two decades later, Claussen (2004) explained a decline in television news credibility in comparison to newspapers. In other words, studies investigating factors pertaining to media credibility can compare different media formats.

The construction of the media agenda could be either a positive outcome or a negative outcome. If we assume that the media agenda is built through proper journalistic standards and thus the news media are objectively reporting on the real world, agenda setting would be a positive influence: People are learning about the issues that are important to society. On the other hand, if the media agenda is manipulated to unscrupulous editors or deceptive public officials, agenda setting would be negative. Individuals would be learning only about the priorities of an editor or official, which could be starkly different from what is happening in the real world.

Thus, the sources of the media agenda can affect the transfer of salience to the public agenda. The credibility of the media, different types of news media, the amount of power assigned to the actor – such as public officials, and the subissues presented by the media source can influence the strength of the agenda-setting effect. These are important mechanisms that can impact the branch of agenda-setting research which deals with sources of the media agenda

1.3Branch 3: Policy agenda

Research has shown that public officials can have an impact on the media’s agenda. Public officials are important sources for news information and are used extensively by the media, and thus the agenda-setting process begins during the news gathering stage. Research also has shown that the media can influence the perceived importance of issues held by public. This is the basis of traditional agenda setting. But what happens after the transferal of salience cues from the media to the public? A third branch of agenda-setting research examines this question. What are the consequences of the agenda-setting process? The final stage of agenda setting thus could involve a legislative process in which lawmakers react to public concern and media coverage. Legislative action has been called the Policy Agenda.

Wanta and Kalyango (2007) demonstrate one example of research examining the policy agenda in their analysis of US funding for anti-terrorism programs within 20 nations in Africa. The study compared real world events (terrorist attacks within individual African nations), statements made by President Bush about the African nations, media coverage of the African nations and whether these “agendas” were related to the amount of money the US Congress allocated to individual countries. The results show that real world events did not influence President Bush’s statements, media coverage, or the amount of money a nation received. However, President Bush’s statements about nations led to media coverage of nations – a clear example of agenda building. An important factor in their agenda-setting model was whether the countries were framed involving terrorism. If framing was taken into consideration, the policy agenda-setting model worked perfectly: The number of deaths within a country attributed to terrorism influenced the frequency of the country being mentioned in President Bush’s statements, the amount of media coverage dealing with terrorism that a country received, and the amount of money the country was allocated. President Bush’s speeches on terrorism also influenced the media and policy agendas dealing with terrorism. Finally, media coverage of terrorism within a country influenced the amount of money a country received to fight terrorism.

A number of other researchers similarly found evidence of policy agenda setting. In his study of education coverage, Zibluk (1999) found that school officials actively sought to use local newspapers to build support for their policies. Journalists relied heavily on quotes from school officials while providing less space to opponents to a tax levy. Thus, the normal reporting routines resulted in a heavy reliance on public officials for information, which in turn worked to the advantage of the public officials.

A study of news coverage of conflicts within the automobile industry by punitive tariffs on Japanese automobile manufacturers found that news stories, unlike editorials, were more likely to present the policy issue as corrective action to ensure fair trade (Chang 1999). On the other hand, editorials presented the issue as a free trade policy issue when it comes to international trade. This finding was one way Chang’s (1999) study demonstrated layered effects which exist in a hierarchy, from the president, to government sources and the elites of the automobile industry.

In his study of Congressional debates, Keefer (1993) argues that the established routines of news reporting often deter citizen participation in the policy-making process. Taha (1999) also found passive reporting in coverage of Somalia. Results show that reporters who work near policy makers are less critical than reporters far removed from the policy makers. Because of this tendency, the New York Times played a minimal role in setting the policy agenda on Somalia.

These conclusions are in conflict with the findings of Linsky et al. (1986). According to their research, policy makers believe that the news media play an integral part in both agenda setting and policy evaluation. In fact, Weaver (1991) showed that salience of an issue on the media agenda increased the level of knowledge demonstrated by the public, influenced the strength and direction of their opinion, and led to a greater likelihood of civic action than inaction. In his study, Weaver (1991) found respondents to be less likely to have a neutral stance on the issue of the budget deficit, and they were more likely to sign a petition, vote, attend a meeting, or write a letter. Thus, political action is a documented consequence of the agenda-setting process.

To summarize, the key mechanisms of the agenda-setting effect as applied to the policy agenda include knowledge acquisition, public opinion formation, and civic action related to public policy.

1.4Branch 4: Second level agenda setting

For the first three decades of research, agenda setting had always involved issues. Media provide coverage of the important issues of the day. The public learns the relative importance of issues from the frequency of coverage. However, there are many agendas in the news.

McCombs, Escobar-Lopez, and Lamas (2000) developed what they called the second level of agenda setting. They posited the idea that besides an agenda of issues, the media also provide the public with an agenda of attributes that they link to objects in the news. In their examination of an election in Spain, they found that the media described certain characteristics of political candidates in their reports of the election campaign. The public mentally linked these characteristics to the candidates to a similar degree as the media coverage. Thus, if the media emphasized an attribute for one candidate, the public would link that same attribute to the same candidate. In other words, just as an issue gaining heavy coverage gave salience cues to the public that the issue was important, so too did attributes gaining heavy coverage in describing a candidate give salience cues to the public that the attribute was important.

Attributes have mainly been placed into two categories. Cognitive attributes deal with factual information about an object’s background or personality while affective attributes refer to positive, neutral, or negative depictions of the object.

Many studies have found support for second-level agenda setting. Golan and Wanta (2001) found a second-level agenda-setting effect during the Republican New Hampshire presidential primary in 2000. They found stronger support for cognitive attributes – such as most likely to win or strong moral character – than for affective attributes. Thus, the findings indicate a stronger cognitive effect – respondents learned about a candidate’s background or issue stances – than an affective effect – respondents forming a positive or negative opinion about a candidate.

Notably, second-level agenda setting research does not have to examine only people, such as political candidates. The media cover many different types of objects: people, places, and things. Wanta, Golan, and Lee (2004) used countries as objects. They found both a first-level agenda-setting effect (the more media coverage a country received in the news, the more respondents thought the country was of “vital importance to the US”) as well as a second-level affective influence (the more negative coverage a country received, the more negative respondents viewed the country).

Carroll and McCombs (2003) used businesses in their examination of corporate images. They argue that agenda setting can occur with media coverage of businesses in a similar fashion to media coverage of political communication. The object in this case becomes a corporation, with attributes linked to corporations in media coverage influencing perceptions of the corporations held by the public.

Therefore, the key mechanisms of the second level of agenda setting involve attributes, both cognitive and affective, associated with the objects on the media agenda, the most salient of which are transferred to the public agenda.

1.5Branch 5: Third level agenda setting

The third level of agenda setting can be understood in terms of networks both theoretically and methodologically. The human memory stores information in a non-linear manner that is often described as cognitive networks (Guo, Vu & McCombs 2012). While the links between various thoughts can be unconscious, studies using social network analysis have demonstrated a statistically significant correlation between the content of mass media messages and salient topics among the public (Guo, Vu & McCombs 2012).

Social network analysis is a robust methodological tool, which allows researchers to understand how actors relate to one another (Wasserman & Faust 1994). Communication researchers have employed it to examine the third level of agenda setting by exploring the dyads of ideas, which can be described as the connection between two issues. For example, Guo, Vu, and McCombs (2012) found that there is a transfer of salience in the connection between issues from the mass media to the public. By calculating the correlation between matrices that describe the relationships between two issues, called QAP correlations, Guo, Vu, and McCombs (2012) contributed to the methodological advancement of the agenda-setting effect in order to show that the salience of the relationship between issues presented by the mass media is also transferred to the public, where it is stored in cognitive networks.

Replications of such findings have confirmed the third level of the agenda-setting effect on local and national levels (Vu, Guo & McCombs 2014). Further, the effect has been confirmed with data analyzed from short periods of time as well as studies with data gathered over a period of five years (Vu, Guo & McCombs 2014). These replications demonstrate that the agenda-setting effect is theoretically valid, but the third level offers a more holistic approach to understanding how perceptions of objects in the media are connected together in the human brain (Vu, Guo & McCombs 2014). The third level of agenda setting explains the relationships between the various components of the media and public agenda (McCombs, Shaw & Weaver 2014). The key mechanism underlying the third level of agenda setting is the network of issues that are associated with one another in the media and public agenda.

1.6Branch 6: The role of the Internet

Recently, agenda-setting researchers have attempted to incorporate content from the Internet in their studies. A major methodological hurdle faces these researchers: Since the Internet has unlimited information on endless topics, an Internet agenda would be impossible to calculate. Thus, researchers must take a different approach in utilizing the Internet.

First, if the Internet is used as the independent variable replacing traditional media as the cause of the agenda-setting effect, researchers must narrow the content by purposively selecting only a small section of the Internet. Most news media outlets provide all of the locally generated news stories on their websites. Many reporters tweet about news stories on their Twitter accounts. Political candidates, public officials, and many other people have websites that can be used to construct an issue agenda. All of these Internet sources could be used in creating an agenda-setting study.

Second, the Internet can also be used as a surrogate for public opinion. Many news media allow for comments on news stories on their websites. Twitter tweets from the general public and posts on forums also can give a rough estimate regarding important issues of the day. Again, these content sources can be used to create a public agenda or a measure of concern with individual issues.

Finally, Internet use can be used as an intervening variable, influencing the traditional agenda-setting relationship between the media and public. The Internet could give individuals information on issues that go beyond those issues covered in the news media. Thus, Internet use can lead individuals to exposure of issues not covered in the traditional news media, interfering with the media–public relationship.

Each of these approaches poses validity problems. The Internet as the independent variable assumes that Internet content will be processed in a similar manner to traditional news content. It also assumes that the Internet is an accurate measure of the media agenda. It may or may not be. There are clear differences in coverage patterns for different media. Using a limited number of Internet news sites would not capture the wide range of news coverage of all news media.

The Internet as the dependent variable assumes that an accurate measure of public opinion can be calculated from postings on social media or in forums. Postings on the Internet, however, may only demonstrate high levels of engagement with issues, a different concept than perceived salience. People may be interested in an issue and post something on the Internet with regard to the issue, but this does not necessarily mean they are concerned with an issue.

The Internet as intervening variable assumes that variance in the relationship between the news media and public is due mainly to Internet exposure and not due to other factors. In reality, non-Internet users are very different from Internet users on many demographic variables, such as age and education level. Is Internet exposure leading to low agenda-setting effects, or are low agenda-setting effects caused by the trend of younger and highly educated individuals having different issue priorities than other people?

2Agenda setting in the age of rapidly advancing technologies

In agenda setting, salience is often measured by counting the frequency of an issue’s appearance in a medium as well as through a survey component to determine whether the public attitudes match cognitive and attitudinal messages disseminated by the mass media. In the age of social media, there are ways for actors to influence the Twitter messages that appear as well as their frequency.

For instance, a single user can create multiple identities from which the user will post messages on social media (Cook et al. 2014). Especially in circumstances where there are only two dominant parties, these practices can be used to alter the perception of support a party has (Cook et al. 2014). This practice has been further evolved into the creation of robots – sometimes referred to as bots – to post automated messages. Cook et al. (2014) emphasize the importance of distinguishing between authentic and inauthentic Twitter accounts, citing studies where individuals who retweet posts are separated from other users.

While this solution may seem easy, there is a hybrid social media user type – a cyborg – in which a human assists a bot or a bot assists a human (Cook et al. 2014). A cyborg interacts with other social media accounts and provides narrative that mimics human friendship and communication. Although it seems quite human, the cyborg consists of a human posting from an automated feed or human-assisted bots (Cook et al. 2014). While the term ‘slacktivism’ has been coined to denote a lack of reliability in measuring social media frequencies due to its inauthentic use, fewer studies have examined the role of false identities, bots, and cyborgs on the agenda setting process.

One study that does address social media in the agenda-setting process distinguishes between top-down and bottom-up agenda setting. In an examination of the use of social media in Russia, Alexanyan et al. (2012) revealed that evidence of the ability of ordinary citizens to set the national agenda on social media faced resistance due to the use of bots to promote pro-government positions and protests on platforms such as Twitter. Further, Alexanyan et al. (2012) suggest that physical intimidation of journalists can discourage dissent as well as cyberattacks, which can be more difficult to attribute to an attacker. Despite such limitations, the authors suggest that social media provide a bottom-up agenda-setting effect in which ordinary citizens can decide which issues are salient as opposed to a top-down agenda-setting effect in which the political and media elite control the media agenda.

In the United States, similar studies have been conducted to examine the effect of online search engines on the agenda setting process. The findings of Ragas, Tran, and Martin (2014) demonstrate that agenda setting online is a bidirectional effect, depending on the issue. When consumers demanded information by inputting keywords in a search engine, this market-driven approach was referred to as reverse agenda setting (Ragas, Tran & Martin 2014). Put simply, this distinction refers to the trend in which the media are more able to set the agenda with regards to some issues than others. As technological innovation is diffused throughout society, it is necessary to conduct studies examining their impact on the mainstream media.

3Modifications to agenda setting: Cognitive to attitudinal effects

The new levels of agenda-setting research have been accompanied by a reconceptualization of the theory. While the original hypothesis posited a cognitive effect – learning about the important issues of the day – the second and third levels go beyond this media influence. These levels assume that the news media not only influence the cognitive/issue agenda of the public but also an attribute agenda – an effect on how the public views actors in the news. Thus, evolving from a theory dealing with frequencies of issue coverage, the new levels of agenda setting deal with the type of coverage the issues receive. In other words, research is now examining an effect that is more attitudinal, influencing perceptions of newsmakers held by members of the public.

The second and third levels have thus opened new avenues for research. Tests for the original hypothesis typically used the story as the unit of analysis. A story dealing with air pollution, for example, would be categorized as an environment issue. The more media coverage pollution received in the media, the more people would think that the environment was an important issue.

However, agenda-setting researchers are now looking at not just issues but also attributes linked to objects in the news. A story on air pollution could concentrate on the economic impact that new restrictions on businesses might entail. On the other hand, a story on air pollution could deal with the adverse effects on the quality of life. Thus, the “object” of air pollution could have vastly different attributes linked to it through the media and therefore likely would have vastly different effects on news consumers.

The conceptualization of agenda setting as an attitudinal effect has led to significant changes in methods employed by researchers. The unit of analysis has shifted from the story to the paragraph, since a typical news story could contain a wide range of attributes but a limited number of issues. With this change, researchers have also linked other theoretical frameworks to agenda setting. The news coverage activates certain previously held information that individuals use to judge objects in the news – much as priming research would argue. The attributes also portray the objects in the news in a certain way, while ignoring other attributes – as framing research would suggest. A news frame is thus a dominant attribute.

4Modifications to agenda setting: Cognitive to behavioral effects

Another reconceptualization of agenda setting has occurred because of the Internet. The main dependent variable in agenda-setting research has traditionally been salience – the perceived importance of issues (first level) and attributes (second level). Salience is transferred from the news media to the public through news coverage. The ultimate effect of the news media at the first level thus is a cognitive influence: People learn about society. This cognitive influence is starkly different from earlier studies that typically failed to find much of an influence of the news media on voting behavior – a behavioral effect.

Recent research, however, has attempted to use content from the Internet to measure the public’s perceptions. Research has used online forums (Roberts, Wanta & Dzwo 2002) and Twitter, for example, as a surrogate for public opinion. The dependent variable in theses studies, it should be noted, differs significantly from the original agenda-setting studies.

Similar to the original hypotheses, research online proposes a cognitive effect: Individuals learn about important issues of the day. Individuals, however, notably take this issue salience one step further: They not only become concerned with issues in the news, but they do something with this knowledge, namely they go to the Internet and voice an opinion.

Thus, online agenda-setting research now examines a behavioral effect. News coverage motivates individuals into action by posting messages online. This agenda-setting behavioral effect would appear to be much more powerful than the original agenda-setting effect.

In addition, the reason individuals are motivated to post messages online is unclear. On the one hand, the motivation could come from the transferal of salience, as suggested in the sense of the traditional agenda-setting research. Exposure to news coverage could increase the level of concern individuals have with certain issues. On the other hand, the motivation could come from interest in a news story. News consumers could see a story that increases interest, but doesn’t increase concern.

An example may illustrate the difference. Several years ago, a newspaper ran a news story about an area high school in which female students were chewing tobacco on school grounds. This was a story that could have created a great deal of interest among readers because of its unusual nature. Individuals may have talked about the issue with others and may have posted comments on the newspaper’s website. The online postings were the result of interest in the topic. The story, however, was unlikely to increase the perceived importance of an issue. The online discussion thus was due to interest (“Those crazy high school students …”) not salience (“High school girls chewing tobacco is the number one problem facing our country today.”).

5Conclusion

Agenda-setting research has demonstrated remarkable resiliency through nearly 50 years of study. Conceptual and methodological changes have led to new and intriguing research approaches. Individuals continue to learn the relative importance of issues from news content. The platforms, however, have changed.

Agenda-setting research has been applied to many different topics, and there are five focal points, or branches, for this type of research. The first branch pertains to contingent conditions, and it involves examining characteristics of people, such as demographics, as well as messages in the media agenda, such as degree of abstractness. Second, the sources of the media agenda can be examined for perceived credibility of the media. Third, the policy agenda examines civic action as a result of knowledge acquisition and opinion formation. Fourth, the second level of agenda setting deals with the transfer of the salient affective and cognitive attributes associated with objects that appear in the media to the public agenda. Finally, the third level of agenda setting involves the transfer of salient networks of associated issues from the media to the public agenda.

Agenda setting continues its evolution. With the advent of the Internet and social media, people have many more potential sources for information. The additional news sources hold great potential in ensuring a well-informed, engaged citizenry. The additional sources also provide mass communication researchers with endless possibilities for future fruitful research.

Further reading

Balmas, Meital & Tamir Sheafer. 2010. Candidate image in election campaigns: Attribute agenda setting, affective priming, and voting intentions. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 22(2). 204–229.

Blom-Hansen, Jens. 2008. The origins of the EU comitology system: a case of informal agenda-setting by the Commission. Journal of European Public Policy 15(2). 208–226.

Brosius, Hans-Bernd & Mathias Hans Kepplinger. 1995. Killer and victim issues: Issue competition in the agenda-setting process of German television. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 7(3). 211–231.

Brosius, Hans-Bernd & Mathias Hans Kepplinger. 1990. The agenda-setting function of television news static and dynamic views. Communication Research 17(2). 183–211.

Chan, Alex. 2007. Guiding public opinion through social agenda-setting: China’s media policy since the 1990s. Journal of Contemporary China 16(53). 547–559.

Green‐Pedersen, Christoffer & Peter Mortensen. 2010. Who sets the agenda and who responds to it in the Danish parliament? A new model of issue competition and agenda‐setting. European Journal of Political Research 49(2). 257–281.

Lee, Byoungkwan, Karen Lancendorfer & Ki Jung Lee. 2005. Agenda-setting and the Internet: The intermedia influence of Internet bulletin boards on newspaper coverage of the 2000 general election in South Korea. Asian Journal of Communication 15(1). 57–71.

Lim, Jeonsub. 2006. A cross-lagged analysis of agenda setting among online news media. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 83(2). 298–312.

Lowe, Philip, Henry Buller & Neil Ward. 2002. Setting the next agenda? British and French approaches to the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy. Journal of Rural Studies 18(1). 1–17.

McCombs, Maxwell, Lance Holbert, Spiro Kiousis & Wayne Wanta. 2011. The news and public opinion: Media effects on civic life. Cambridge: Polity Press.

McCombs, Maxwell, Lance Holbert, Spiro Kiousis & Wayne Wanta. 2013. The news and public opinion: Media effects on civic life. Trans. by M. S. Hussain. Cairo: Dar Alfajer Lelnashr Waltawzea.

Pralle, Sarah. 2006. Timing and sequence in agenda-setting and policy change: a comparative study of lawn care pesticide politics in Canada and the US. Journal of European Public Policy 13(7). 987–1005.

Shaoguang, Wang. 2006. Public policy agenda-setting patterns in China [J]. Social Sciences in China 5. 86–99.

Toshio, Takeshita & Mikami Shunji. 1995. How did mass media influence the voters’ choice in the 1993 general election in Japan?: A study of agenda-setting. Keio Communication Review 17(3). 27–41.

Tsebelis, George, & Geoffrey Garrett. 1996. Agenda setting power, power indices, and decision making in the European Union. International Review of Law and Economics 16(3). 345–361.

Wallington, Sherrie Flynt, Kelly Blake, Kalahn Taylor-Clark & K. Viswanath. 2010. Antecedents to agenda setting and framing in health news: An examination of priority, angle, source, and resource usage from a national survey of US health reporters and editors. Journal of Health Communication 15(1). 76–94.

Wolfe, Michelle, Bryan Jones & Frank Baumgartner. 2013. A failure to communicate: Agenda setting in media and policy studies. Political Communication 30(2). 175–192.

Zucchini, Francesco. 2011. Government alternation and legislative agenda setting. European Journal of Political Research 50(6). 749–774.

References

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