Covid19 Coverage in Western Media through Agenda Setting Theory Lens Essay

Case Study Proposal

The purpose of this project is to link theoretical/scholarly material about media effects and content to a “real world” case. You will select a case of interest to you that recently played out via some type of media channel. This could include traditional news outlets, the blogosphere, various social media outlets, or some combination of these channels.

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You will then critique and analyze the case from the theoretical frameworks and perspectives in the scholarly literature you have chosen. Your case study should conclude with a summary of lessons learned from the case and/or any communications recommendations you have for how the individuals and/or organizations involved could have used media more strategically to realize more favorable outcomes.

The proposal should including a cover page and a references list.

This proposal should be a minimum of

4

pages, double-spaced, and a maximum of 6 pages, double spaced (excluding cover sheet and references). For your proposal, you will write the first 3 sections of your case study paper (Introduction, a portion of the Literature Review, and the Media Review section). Your proposal should include the following:Proposal Components:

1

. Introduction and Overview: Describes overall purpose of paper (includes description of case for background/context; briefly previews type of media content that will be analyzed and theoretical/scholarly literature that will be used; makes argument for why that area of scholarly literature is best suited to understanding the case).2. Literature Review: Summary of theoretical/scholarly literature reviewed for the case (at least

5

sources cited). (NOTE: For the final case study paper, you will need to increase your literature review to cover at least 10 sources, but for the proposal only

5

sources are required).3. Media Review: Identifies media content that will be analyzed; provides rationale for media content selected; describes how media content will be collected; briefly identifies qualitative content analysis as the method of data analysis.

5

5

5

4

1

Criteria

Points Possible

Introduction and Overview describes overall purpose of paper (describes case, briefly previews type of media content analyzed and area of scholarly literature reviewed; makes argument for why that scholarly literature is best suited to the case).

Literature review cites at least 5 scholarly sources that are appropriate for the case. Literature is concisely and effectively summarized.

Media review section identifies media content that will be analyzed; provides rationale for media content selected; describes how media content will be collected; briefly identifies qualitative content analysis as the method of data analysis. Decisions reflect clear logic.

Written quality (organization, clarity, conciseness, grammar, spelling, and punctuation)

Proper use of APA citations and references.

TOTAL

20

USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS
TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA
AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE
IN TRADITIONAL MEDIA
AND POLITICAL BLOG NETWORKS
By Sharon Meraz
Using time series analysis to gauge intermedia agenda setting in a sample of eighteen U.S. political blogs, two elite traditional news entities,
and their eleven political newsroom blogs across three issues in 2007,
this study reveals that traditional media were unable to set political blog
agendas. Ideologically diverse political blog networks were also able to
set traditional media’s online news agenda, and, to a lesser extent, their
newsroom blog agenda. Findings point to a dilution of traditional
media’s singular agenda-setting influence and to greater interdependence between traditional media and political blogs than suggested by
hyperlink studies.
J&MC Quarterly
Vol. 88, No. 1
Spring 2011
176-194
©2011 AEJMC
176
The tense relationship between traditional media and the networked blogosphere has been a feature of the new mass media landscape since political blogs arose as a force in the aftermath of the 9/11
U.S. terrorist attacks and with the ensuing wars in Afghanistan and
Iraq.1 Traditional media entities are now facing a sea change in the
economics of news production and distribution.2 As the printed medium continues to lose ground to an online model of production and distribution,3 traditional media entities have been forced to experiment
with Web 2.0 technologies while adopting blogging4 and other social
media forms5 in an effort to draw active web publics into their news
sites.
During the 2008 presidential election, visits to some popular political blogs increased by triple-digit percentage points over readership of
those blogs in the preceding 2007 year.6 Political citizen journalism also
continued to mature: citizen blogger and Huffington Post’s OffTheBus
contributor Mayhill Fowler broke two of the more sensational campaign
stories during the runoff for the 2008 democratic presidential nomination,7 recalling previous success that top political bloggers have had in
making public officials accountable.8 Though traditional newsrooms
Sharon Meraz is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the
University of Illinois, Chicago.
JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY
were reluctant to quote Fowler as their news source,9 newsrooms from
the New York Times to news blog sites such as ABC’s The Note and
National Journal’s BlogMeter now regularly access blogs for story leads.
These anecdotal reports suggest vibrant informational codependence
between political blogs and traditional media outlets; however, little
quantitative research has compared how issue emphasis and selection
can be used to gauge intermedia agenda-setting influence between these
two media entities.
This study works within the methodological tradition of previous studies that have adopted the time series method of Granger
causality to conduct agenda-setting analysis.10 Unlike earlier studies,
this study measures the number of unique blog posts and news articles
written on an issue as an indicator of intermedia issue agenda-setting
effects. A previous study11 revealed that political bloggers were equally
as likely to link in their blog postings to traditional media as citizen
media; however, traditional media were unwilling to link to political
blogs. Departing from the use of hyperlink analysis as a marker of source
agenda-setting relationships, this study examines how the choice to
write blog postings and/or articles about an issue, in contrast to the
viewpoints adopted on those issues, can be used as an indicator of intermedia agenda-setting influence. This study compares the quantity of
blog postings on three popular public affairs issues in 2007 through a
sample of eighteen top independent political blogs (six left-leaning, six
right-leaning, and six moderate); two elite traditional media entities;
and the latter’s eleven newsroom blogs that center on U.S. political
affairs. This study also establishes the relevancy of intermedia agendasetting theory in explicating flows of influence between both traditional
media and political blogs and among political blogs of diverse political
ideology.
Intermedia Agenda Setting. Agenda setting remains one of the
most enduring and most researched theories in mass communication
and political communication.12 The maturation of agenda-setting theory
over several decades could explain previous13 findings regarding the
leveling off of academic publications that use agenda setting as a theoretical device. Since its first appearance in 1972, agenda setting has matured
as a theory to include a second-level agenda-setting component (attribute agenda setting), a psychological component to explain individuallevel agenda-setting effects (need for orientation), an emphasis on how
the media’s agenda is shaped, and an explanation for the shared news
agenda among different media (intermedia agenda setting). Given its
endurance and maturity as a mass communication theory, it is surprising
that few researchers directly apply agenda setting, specifically intermedia agenda setting, to flows of influence that occur between traditional
media and the networked political blogosphere as well as among ideologically diverse U.S. political blogs.
Intermedia agenda setting seeks to examine how the media’s
agenda is set by sources,14 and intermedia agenda setting explains the
USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE
Literature
Review
177
flow of influence among media entities.15 In terms of more traditional
media, the intermedia agenda-setting influence has been most evident
in situations of elite influence, such as elite newsrooms’ influence on
less elite mass media entities,16 newspaper influence on television
news broadcasts,17 and online newspapers’ influence on wire services.18
Television outlets have also had influence on each other’s agendas.
Other forms of influence include political advertising on television
and newspaper news19 and advertising by political candidates on traditional media agendas.20 Website agendas of political candidates and
traditional mass media agendas have also exhibited strong correlations.21
Though research on the intermedia agenda-setting relationship
between traditional media and newer, emergent media is limited, most
previous research suggests that within the United States, traditional
media institutions still have the power to set non-traditional media
agendas at the issue level. Traditional media were shown to have influence on the content of the 1996 Republican candidates’ press releases as
presented on candidate websites.22 In the 2004 presidential election, traditional media also influenced the campaign blog agendas, as opposed
to influence occurring in the reverse direction.23 In the context of blogs,
one study did find blog-to-media influence at the issue level; however,
the reverse level of influence was stronger.24
Intermedia agenda-setting theory has also been applied to informational influence among non-traditional media entities. One study
found significant inter-candidate issue agenda setting during the 2004
U.S. presidential election based on candidate press releases downloaded
from the candidate websites.25 Evidence has also been found for shared
issue agendas among traditional media platforms and non-traditional
portal news outlets, such as Yahoo News and Google News. In terms of
the political blogosphere, no studies have utilized intermedia agenda
setting to explain flows of influence.26
Previous studies on informational influence and agenda sharing
within the political blogosphere have centered on gauging source influence through the analysis of hyperlink connections. Several of these
studies have shown that the political blogosphere is stratified along partisan lines. Blogs that share political ideology are more prone to link to
one another and share similar source agendas.27 These hyperlink studies
suggest that partisan affiliation strongly impacts intermedia agenda setting through source agendas.
Unlike previous studies on the political blogosphere, this study
utilizes the theory of intermedia agenda setting to gauge two levels of
influence. First, intermedia agenda setting is used to gauge the influence
of the traditional newsroom on political blogs. Second, intermedia agenda setting is used to assess the flow of influence among political blogs
of disparate political ideologies. Departing from previous studies centered in hyperlink analysis, this study examines intermedia agenda setting through time series analysis estimated by Granger causality, utilizing the quantity of unique blog postings and articles on select issues as
an indicator of intermedia agenda-setting effects.
178
JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY
Before conducting specific time series tests for intermedia agenda
setting, this study will test for evidence of correlated issue agendas as a
surface marker of intermedia agenda setting. Given previous findings of
ideologically driven hyperlinking practices among partisan political
blogs,28 this study advances the following hypothesis in relation to issue
selection and emphasis on partisan blogs:
Hypotheses
and
Research
Questions
H1: Blogs that share partisan ideologies will have a
more correlated issue agenda within their blog posts than
that of ideologically disparate blogs.
With the maturation of the political blogosphere, many former
journalists are now joining the ranks of elite political bloggers.29 Though
many elite political bloggers now gain first-hand access to sources,30 most
elite traditional media entities still remain in a better structural position
to break news and conduct investigative reporting on their online news
websites due to their professional affiliation to the newsroom.31 Initiating
an intermedia agenda-setting test at the most likely level of traditional
media textual influence—online news articles—this study advances the
following intermedia agenda-setting hypothesis as it relates to issue
selection and emphasis:
H2: Traditional media’s online news articles will be
more likely to set the issue agenda of political blog postings
than the reverse relationship.
This study also predicts that traditional media’s online news agenda will have more success in influencing issue selection and emphasis
within political blog issue agendas than political blogs within their own
blog networks. This study advances the following intermedia agendasetting hypothesis:
H3: Traditional media’s online news articles will be more
likely to set the issue agenda of political blog postings than political blogs will be at setting their own blog post issue agenda.
Can independent political blogs influence issue selection and
emphasis within traditional media outlets? One study found that political blogs exert influence on traditional media’s issue agenda; however,
the greater influence was from traditional media to political blogs.32 This
study advances the following research questions:
RQ1: To what extent are political blogs successful at
setting the issue agenda in traditional media’s online news
articles?
RQ2: To what extent are political blogs successful at setting the issue agenda in traditional media’s blog postings?
USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE
179
Due to the novelty of traditional media newsroom blogging, scholarly attention has yet to assess its agenda-setting impact on other media
agendas. Thus, this study advances the following research question:
RQ3: What role do traditional media blogs play in setting the agenda of other media entities?
These three hypotheses and three research questions were tested
through comparing the frequency of blog postings and news articles
written on three select public affairs issues in 2007 in a sample of eighteen elite political blogs across the ideological spectrum, two elite traditional media entities (the New York Times and the Washington Post), and
the latter’s eleven newsroom blogs that center on politics.
Method
180
Past studies reveal that traditional media pay close attention to the
content from political blog elites.33 Using quantitative techniques,34 the
most popular blog listings from blog aggregators/search engines
Technorati, the Truth Laid Bear, and BlogPulse were correlated in an effort
to sample elite left-leaning and right-leaning political blogs. This
process yielded the following sample of twelve blogs: The Daily Kos
(left-leaning), Crooks and Liars (left-leaning), Think Progress (left-leaning),
Talking Points Memo (left-leaning), The Huffington Post (left-leaning),
FireDogLake (left-leaning), Instapundit (right-leaning), Michelle Malkin
(right-leaning), Hot Air (right-leaning), Little Green Footballs (right-leaning), Powerline (right-leaning), and Captain’s Quarters (right-leaning).
Because of their absence from popular blog listings, it was necessary to
utilize a series of triangulation techniques35 to sample popular moderate
blogs. This resulted in the selection of Donklephant, The Moderate Voice,
The Daily Dish, The Gun Toting Liberal, Central Sanity, and The Van Der
Galien Gazette. In total, eighteen blogs were selected for analysis, with six
selected across each dominant ideological spectrum.
Previous studies have found that elite newsrooms are agenda setters for less elite news media;36 as such, the online versions of the New
York Times and the Washington Post were selected to represent the traditional media’s online news agenda. This study also examined the impact
of the newsroom’s political blogs, which included the following: The
Caucas, The Lede, and the Opinionator for the New York Times, and the
political blogs White House Watch, Bench Conference, Achenblog, Early
Warning, Think Tank Town, The Fix, On Balance, and OFF/Beat from the
Washington Post. Individual media agendas were further aggregated
into five broad “network” agendas: the left-leaning blog network, the
right-leaning blog network, the moderate blog network, the traditional
media network, and the traditional media blog network.
Rather than hand-selecting specific issues, issues for this study
were selected based on quantity of discussion generated. The issue-rich
period of July 20, 2007, to September 30, 2007, was chosen as a good time
period for selecting popular issues, and two primary criteria ultimately
guided issue selection. Each issue needed to be bound by a definite start
JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY
and end point, a factor important in measuring agenda-setting effects;
and issues needed to generate notable discussion across all blogs and
media. These criteria yielded three issues: the Alberto Gonzales hearings
on the NSA wiretapping, the Larry Craig sex scandal, and the Petraeus
report and the MoveOn “Betray us” ad on Iraq.
Exact start and end time points for the study of each of the issues
were determined by two additional factors: summing the total amount of
unique blog posts and articles on each issue through the entire time period for a visible message burst, and ensuring that over 50% of media entities (blogs and traditional media) carried a message about the issue. The
start and end time periods in 2007 for the Gonzales NSA wiretapping testimony, the Larry Craig scandal, and the Petraeus report and the
MoveOn “Betray us” ad on Iraq were July 24 to August 2, August 27 to
September 7, and August 15 to September 24, respectively.
The sampling frame was the entire blog and traditional media
website, while the unit of analysis was the blog post for blogs (political
blogs and traditional media blogs) and the article for traditional media’s
online website agenda. For each of the three issues, the advanced search
feature on each medium’s website was used to pull all generated content
during the time period designated for each issue’s investigation. To
ensure reliability regarding which content was counted as related to
the select issues,37 inter-coder reliability tests were conducted on a
random 10% sample of content for each issue across the media entities.
Two coders compared their selection of blog posts and/or online news
articles that qualified as posts/articles on each issue. Coders were given
specific instructions to select only blog postings or online news articles
that had (1) a headline that suggested the posting/article was about
the topic, and/or (2) a lead that centrally identified the posting/article
with the topic. Inter-coder reliability scores ranged from .94 to .98
using Krippendorff’s alpha, which accounts for chance agreement.38
Upon reaching this acceptable level of agreement, one coder completed
the selection of the remaining blog postings and articles that would
account for each media entity’s total volume of content for each issue. In
total, there were 1,422 unique blog posts (1,262 culled from the eighteen
independent blogs in this sample and 160 culled from traditional media
blog posts) and 302 traditional media’s online news articles. This count
data, aggregated at the network level (left-leaning blog agenda, rightleaning blog agenda, moderate blog agenda, traditional media agenda,
traditional media blog agenda) on an issue-by-issue basis (see Table 1),
formed the basis for correlating issue agendas (H1) and for testing causation and intermedia agenda setting using Ordinary Least Squares
(OLS) regression to estimate Granger causality (H2, H3, RQ1, RQ2, and
RQ3).
Time series analysis has long been recognized and utilized as a
robust method for determining causation in agenda-setting studies,39
including intermedia agenda-setting effects.40 It is argued that Granger
causality can provide a more accurate result than other time series methods, like ARIMA modeling,41 which are more prone to error. Applying
Granger causality analysis to this study permitted predictions of each
USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE
181
TABLE 1
Unique Blog Posting and Article Volume on Each Issue in Five Media Networks
Media Network
Left
Moderate
Right
TMediaA
TMediaB
Craig
Issues
Gonzales
Iraq
46
39
30
19
226
102
207
73
49
123
24
20
463
139
167
Note: Due to space constraints, within Table 1, Left refers to the agenda of left-leaning blogs, Right
refers to the agenda of right-leaning blogs, TMediaA refers to the agenda of traditional media’s
online news articles, and TMediaB refers to agenda of traditional media’s blog postings.
media network’s agenda based on lagged values of its past agenda and
those of other media networks.
Using OLS regression, optimal time lags were tested through the
regression of each media network’s agenda against its past agenda until
the latter no longer predicted its present agenda. Using STATA to run
OLS regression to estimate Granger causality, linear relationships were
then developed that regressed each of the five aggregated media network agendas based on both their past agenda and the agenda of the
other four media networks. For example, traditional media’s agendasetting influence on the right-leaning blog network would be estimated
using both traditional media’s past agenda and the right-leaning blog
network’s past agenda as predictors. Running these tests provided t-values of significance based on each medium’s intermedia agenda-setting
ability for other media networks.
Given that results of a time series analysis are more reliable with
more than 50 time points,42 all 56 usable time points through the
three issue periods were pooled to create greater opportunity to decipher media and blog influence on each other. At the individual issue
level, the only issue that yielded a lengthy enough time period to
avoid an overly inflated error term (and a failure to reject the null
hypothesis) was the Petraeus Report/MoveOn “Betray Us” Ad issue,
which persisted for 40 days. This latter issue provided 38 usable lags for
measuring intermedia agenda-setting effects among the five media networks.
Results
182
Correlating Issue Agendas Across Media Entities. Before specific
hypotheses and research questions were examined, intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated, issue-by-issue, on the frequency
of postings and article content on each issue in an effort to provide a
measure of broad agreement among the five different media networks.
ICC is similar to Pearson’s correlation, but useful for non-independent
datasets like those in this study.
JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY
TABLE 2
Blog-to-Blog and Blog-to-Media Correlations for the Petraeus Report
and the MoveOn “Betray Us” Ad on the Iraq Issue
Right
Left
Moderate
TMediaA
TMediaB
Right
Left
.165
Moderate
.638*
.308*
TMediaA
.381*
.474*
.365*
TMediaB
.140
.308*
.565*
.272*
Note: Due to space constraints, within Table 2, Left refers to the agenda of left-leaning blogs, Right
refers to the agenda of right-leaning blogs, TMediaA refers to the agenda of traditional media’s
online news articles, and TMediaB refers to agenda of traditional media’s blog postings.
*p < .05 Table 1 provides a summary of issue mentions across the five media networks. Of the three issues, the Petraeus Report/MoveOn issue was the only issue that yielded a significant correlation (r = .415, p < .05) across all five network agendas (left-leaning blogosphere, right-leaning blogosphere, the moderate blogosphere, traditional media’s online news, and traditional media blog). For the Craig issue, the ICC was insignificant (r = .022, p > .05) for broad agreement across the five networks. Similarly, the ICC was insignificant for the Gonzales issue
(r = -.058, p > .05) across all five network agendas.
Pairwise correlations were then run between the networks to
determine whether any two networks yielded significant correlation
coefficients. As Table 2 highlights, only the Petraeus Report/MoveOn
issue yielded significant correlations across all network agendas.
Significant correlations on this issue ranged from .272 to .638, and all
blog networks showed correlations with the media agenda. Both the leftleaning and the moderate network also had strong correlations with the
media blog agenda; however, only the right-leaning blogosphere did not
have an agenda that correlated with the media blog agenda.
For the remaining two issues, few significant correlations were
derived; yet, a consistent finding was the moderate blogosphere’s strong
correlation with traditional media’s blog agenda (a relationship which
provides moderate support for H2). For the Craig issue, significant correlations were found between the moderate network and the left-leaning
blogosphere (r = .456, p < .05), as well as between the moderate blogosphere and the media blog agenda (r = .490, p < .05). For the Gonzales issue, the only significant correlation was a correlation between the moderate blogosphere and the media blog agenda (r = .572, p < .05). For all three issues, both the moderate blogosphere and traditional media’s blog agenda shared strong correlations. ICC findings revealed uncorrelated issue agendas between the left-leaning and right-leaning networks; however, to test H1 fully, it was USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE 183 TABLE 3 One-day Lag Significance Values for Media Network Setting Its Own Agenda Right Left Moderate TMediaA TMediaB Right 3.56* . . Left 6.66* . Moderate . . 3.38* . TMediaA . 6.39* TMediaB . 3.69* Note: Due to space constraints, within Table 3, Left refers to the agenda of left-leaning blogs, Right refers to the agenda of right-leaning blogs, TMediaA refers to the agenda of traditional media’s online news articles, and TMediaB refers to agenda of traditional media’s blog postings. * p < .05 184 important to correlate the issue agendas of blogs within their ideological social networks. Such analysis would answer the important question: Do left-leaning blogs and right-leaning blogs share a similar issue agenda with other blogs within their ideological perspective? H1 gained consistent support within the left-leaning blogosphere, though the correlation coefficients could be described as weak. The ICC for the agenda of the six left-leaning blogs on the Craig issue was significant (r = .292, p < .05). Regarding the Gonzales issue, the ICC was also significant (r = .225, p < .05) among all six left-leaning blog agendas. Finally, on the Petraeus Report/MoveOn issue, the ICC among the six left-leaning blog agendas proved significant (r = .521, p < .05). H1 gained only qualified support within the right-leaning blog network, with the strongest support gained for the Petraeus Report/ MoveOn issue. The ICC was highest for this issue (r = .403, p < .05), but barely significant for the Craig issue (r = .131, p = .05); however, the ICC was insignificant for the Gonzales issue (r= -.064, p > .05).
Testing Intermedia Agenda in Traditional Media and Political
Blog Networks. These data reveal correlations among agendas among
the five different media outlets (left-leaning blogs, right-leaning blogs,
moderate blogs, traditional media, and traditional media blogs), but correlation coefficients are not evidence of causation. In an effort to determine directional influence, OLS regression was used to estimate Granger causality. These hypotheses also required a test of how effective the
media network was at setting its own agenda, which was best predicted
by a one-day lag interval (Table 3). Hypotheses were then tested by
combining all issues into a pooled issue. Additionally, tests were conducted at the individual issue level using the Petraeus Report/MoveOn issue.
Isolating the most well-known and likely source of traditional
media influence, H2 predicted that traditional media’s online news
agenda would be more likely to set the issue agenda of political blogs
than the reverse relationship. This hypothesis was only partially supported, at both the pooled issue level and at the individual issue level,
JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY
TABLE 4
Pooled Issue Data Testing Traditional Media to Political Blog Agenda Setting
Granger Test
Left blog does not Granger cause
Right blog does not Granger cause
Moderate blog does not Granger cause
TMediaA does not Granger cause
TMediaB does not Granger cause
Media
Right blog
Moderate blog
TMediaA
TMediaB
Result
2.83*
1.19
2.62*
1.98
Left blog
Moderate blog
TMediaA
TMediaB
0.53
-0.20
3.18*
1.11
Left blog
Right blog
Moderate blog
TMediaB
1.29
2.28*
2.18*
3.06*
Left blog
Right blog
TMediaA
TMediaB
Left blog
Right blog
Moderate blog
TMediaA
1.97
2.32*
5.02*
2.85*
0.47
0.58
0.17
3.04*
Note: Due to space constraints, within Table 4, Left refers to the agenda of left-leaning blogs, Right
refers to the agenda of right-leaning blogs, TMediaA refers to the agenda of traditional media’s
online news articles, and TMediaB refers to agenda of traditional media’s blog postings. All reported results represent t-values between the two media agendas that test Granger causality.
* p < .05 because of traditional media’s inability to set the left-leaning blog agenda. Table 4 presents the results at the pooled issue level, while Table 5 presents these results at the individual issue level. Using the syntax of Granger causality, noting that the words “agenda setting“ are substituted with the word “cause,“43 traditional media online news sites did Granger cause the right-leaning blog agenda through the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 2.28, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 3.15, p < .05), the moderate blog agenda through the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 2.18, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 2.05, p < .05) , and its own media blog agenda through the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 3.06, p < .05), and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 3.64, p < .05). But, traditional media online news sites did not Granger cause the left-leaning blog agenda at either the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 1.29, p > .05) or the
individual issue level (t[2, 36] = -1.18, p > .05).
H3 predicted that political blogs would not be successful at setting
one another’s agenda; however, this was also unsupported. Through the
USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE
185
TABLE 5
Individual Issue Data Testing Traditional Media to Political Blog Agenda Setting
Granger Test
Left blog does not Granger cause
Right blog does not Granger cause
Moderate blog does not Granger cause
TMediaA does not Granger cause
TMediaB does not Granger cause
Media
Right blog
Moderate blog
TMediaA
TMediaB
Left blog
Moderate blog
TMediaA
TMediaB
Left blog
Right blog
TMediaA
TMediaB
Left blog
Right blog
Moderate blog
TMediaB
Left blog
Right blog
Moderate blog
TMediaA
Result
4.12*
2.13*
3.75*
3.36*
0.10
0.36
2.38*
1.34
0.74
2.24*
4.22*
2.24*
0.83
3.15*
2.05*
3.64*
-1.18
0.22
-0.05
1.76
Note: Due to space constraints, within Table 5, Left refers to the agenda of left-leaning blogs, Right
refers to the agenda of right-leaning blogs, TMediaA refers to the agenda of traditional media’s
online news articles, and TMediaB refers to agenda of traditional media’s blog postings. All reported results represent t-values between the two media agendas that test for Granger causality.
*p < .05 186 pooled issue level and the individual issue level, political blogs did Granger set each other’s agenda. As Tables 4 and 5 show, the left-leaning blog network did Granger cause the agenda of the right-leaning blogosphere network at the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 2.83, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 4.12, p < .05). Right-leaning blogs had less agenda-setting power on other blogs, and in both scenarios (pooled and individual issue level), this network was unable to set the agenda of other political blogs. An interesting scenario of the moderate blog’s power is shown by its agenda-setting ability: the moderate blog network did Granger cause the issue agenda of the right-leaning blogosphere at the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 2.32, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 2.24, p < .05). However, the moderate blog network did not Granger cause the left-leaning blog network’s agenda at both the pooled issue level and the individual issue level. Were the political blog networks able to set traditional media’s online news issue agenda (blog and traditional news websites)? In JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY answer to RQ1 and RQ2, Tables 4 and 5 also provide solid evidence that all blog networks had success at setting traditional media’s online news agenda (as opposed to traditional media’s blog agenda) at the pooled issue level and the individual issue level. The left-leaning blogosphere was successful at setting traditional media’s agenda through the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 2.62, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 3.75, p < .05). Similarly, the right-leaning blogosphere wielded influence over traditional media’s agenda through the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 3.18, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 2.38, p < .05). Unlike the left-leaning or the right-leaning blogosphere, the moderate blogosphere influenced the issue agendas of traditional media’s online news site through both the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 5.02, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 4.22, p < .05), as well as traditional media’s blog agenda through both the pooled issue level (t[2, 36] = 2.85, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 2.24, p < .05). RQ3 probed the effectiveness of the traditional media blog as an agenda setter for other blog media agendas. The results reveal that traditional media blogs are less of an influencer and are more influenced by their online news sites and by political blog networks. The left-leaning (t[2, 36] = 3.36, p < .05) and the moderate blogosphere (t[2, 36] = 2.24, p < .05) did Granger cause the traditional media’s blog agenda on the individual issue level, while the moderate blogosphere also leveraged agenda-setting power over the media blog at the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 2.85, p < .05). Through both the pooled issue level (t[2, 54] = 3.06, p < .05) and the individual issue level (t[2, 36] = 3.64, p < .05), traditional media’s online news agenda did Granger cause their internal media blog agenda. Previous studies have utilized hyperlink analysis to gauge source influence between political blogs and traditional mass media entities.44 However, source influence based solely on hyperlink analysis provides only a limited, often shorthand measure of agenda-setting influence. Unlike those studies, this study utilized issue selection and emphasis as a yardstick for gauging the intermedia agenda-setting influence among diverse media entities. Unlike previous studies, this study also sought to establish the significance of intermedia agenda-setting theory in explaining informational influence between traditional media and the political blogosphere, as well as within the U.S. political blogosphere. In confirming the findings of previous hyperlinking studies45 that point to a dilution of traditional media’s singular agenda-setting power over all web publics, this study also affirms the growing influence of the progressive political blogosphere in setting other media agendas, while resisting traditional media agenda setting. Progressive blogs now resemble traditional media in their embrace of team blogging, investigative journalism, and editorial workflow practices.46 Blogs like the Huffington Post are drawing larger audiences than the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal.47 These political blogs also gain energy from the endless cycle of extended U.S. political campaigns, suggesting that the popularity of this alternative news stream can further USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE Conclusion 187 dilute the influence of traditional media during heightened political periods. Though previous hyperlink analysis studies found little evidence of extensive linking on the part of traditional media to political blogs,48 this study’s findings revealed that all blog networks (left-leaning, rightleaning, and moderate) exerted moderate influence on traditional media’s agenda. Moderate support was not surprising, given this study’s basis in issue selection, as opposed to viewpoints. The disjuncture in this study’s findings from hyperlink studies could suggest a limitation of using hyperlinks as a surrogate for the media agenda. Traditional media may still be wary of linking to sites, preferring to maintain their walled gardens. Hyperlinking is also the currency for attention and relevance in the networked web environment,49 and since more hyperlinks from elite actors can drive up search engine visibility and web traffic, traditional media may be wary of contributing to their own loss of an audience by ceding ground to this competitive, growing news platform. Drawing from text is less visible than linking to sites. This study’s moderate findings of mutual intermedia agenda-setting influence between traditional media and most blog networks might also be based on the choice of issues studied.50 As has been shown in such past events as the Trent Lott scandal and the Dan Rather resignation, political bloggers and traditional media often display mutual codependence in investigating a top political story.51 During heightened political events, it is common for both traditional media and independent political blogs to utilize each other as sources. Given this study’s limited focus on a small sample of popular, hot-button issues and elite blogs, future studies should examine more diverse events and less elite political blogs to see if blog reputation or issue characteristics might predict routine or limited dependence of traditional media on political blog agendas. This study is unique in its application of intermedia agenda-setting theory to the transference of partisan issue agendas among political blogs. Similar to hyperlinking studies which reveal shared source agendas among ideologically similar political blogs, blogs that share partisan ideologies are more prone to share an issue agenda. Future studies should explicate how the process of intermedia agenda setting within these partisan platforms is enhanced by social influence theories, like social network science, the two-step flow theory, and homophily. Web 2.0 technologies have enabled social influence to be triggered through the power of influentials or trendsetters who act as hubs for information. Future studies can explore how social influence theories work to complement and predict the intermedia agenda-setting process within networked environments like the U.S. political blogosphere. The coherence in partisan blog issue agendas is a significant finding that can re-awaken fears of selective attention in the twenty-first century media climate. It is possible that web publics will continue to self-select into these partisan communities because it is now easier.52 Future studies should examine the extent to which these partisan political blogs and traditional media platforms converge on the most impor- 188 JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY tant news of the day. These future studies are important, given the rising popularity of these partisan political blogs as alternatives to traditional news media platforms, particularly during heightened political events like U.S. presidential elections. NOTES 1. Sharon Meraz, “The Blogosphere’s Gender Gap: Differences in Visibility, Popularity, and Authority,” in Women, Men, and News, ed. Paula Poindexter, Sharon Meraz, and Amy Schmitz Weiss (NY: Routledge, 2008), 129-51; Tim Cavanaugh, “Let Slip the Blogs of War,” in We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture, ed. John Rodzvilla (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2002); Lakshmi Chaudhry, “Can Blogs Revolutionize Progressive Politics,” Salon, February 6, 2006, available from http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2485/can_blogs_ revolutionize_progressive_politics/. 2. Several books treat the changing dynamics of media economics in the twenty-first century. For example, see Chris Anderson, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More (NY: Hyperion, 2006); Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007); Axel Bruns, Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (NY: Peter Lang, 2008); Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (NY: Penguin Group, 2009). 3. See, “Internet Most Popular Information Source: Poll,” Reuters, June 17, 2009, available from http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne /idUSTRE55G4XA20090617. 4. Meraz, “The Blogosphere’s Gender Gap: Differences in Visibility, Popularity, and Authority.” 5. Many newsrooms have begun transitioning from blogging applications to microblogging platforms, like Twitter, and social networking platforms, such as Facebook, in an effort to reach out to the younger audience, as well as more active web publics. As of 2010, few academic articles have been published on the usage and utility of social media in the newsroom. 6. See “Huffington Post and Politico Lead Wave of Explosive Growth at Independent Political Blogs and News Sites This Election Season,” ComScore, October 22, 2008, available from http://www.comscore.com/ Press_Events/Press_Releases/2008/10/Huffington_Post_and_Politico_ Lead_Political_Blogs; Lee Rainie and Aaron Smith, “The Internet and the 2008 Election,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2008 [cited 2010]; available from http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/252/report_ display.asp. 7. Mayhill Fowler, “Bill Clinton: Purdum a ‘Sleazy‘ ‘Slimey‘ ‘Scumbag,‘” The Huffington Post, June 2, 2008, available from http:// www.huffingtonpost.com/mayhill-fowler/bill-clinton-purdhum-asl_b_104771.html; Mayhill Fowler, “Obama: No Surprise that HardPressed Pennsylvanians Turn Bitter,” The Huffington Post, April 11, 2008, USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE 189 available from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mayhill-fowler/ obama-no-surprise-that-ha_b_96188.html. 8. For examination of the role of political bloggers in the 2002 resignation of Trent Lott as Senate Republican leader, see Thomas Edsell and Brian Faler, “Lott Remarks on Thurmond Echoed 1980 Words,” Washington Post, December 11, 2002, available from http://www.washington post.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A37288-2002Dec10; John Mercurio, “Lott Apologizes for Thurmond Comment,” CNN, December 10, 2002, available from http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/12/09/ lott.comment/. For the role that Josh Micah Marshall played in bringing about the 2007 resignation of Alberto Gonzales, see Noam Cohen, “Blogger, Sans Pajamas, Rakes Muck and a Prize,” New York Times, February 25, 2008, available from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/ 25/business/media/25marshall.html. 9. Jay Rosen, “The Uncharted: From Off the Bus to Meet the Press,” The Huffington Post, April 14, 2008, available from http://www.huffing tonpost.com/jay-rosen/the-uncharted-from-off-th_b_96575.html. 10. One of the more comprehensive overviews of the usage of Granger causality in agenda-setting studies is detailed by Stuart Soroka in his book, Agenda Setting Dynamics in Canada (Vancouver, BC: UBC Press, 2002). The most notable studies of the usage of Granger causality for measuring agenda-setting effects include the following: Hans-Bernd Brosius and Hans Mathias Kepplinger, “The Agenda Setting Function of Television News: Static and Dynamic Views,” Communication Research 17 (April 1990): 188-211; Kim Smith, “Newspaper Coverage and Public Concern about Community Issues: A Time Series Analysis,” Journalism Monographs 101 (August 1987): 1-32; William J. Gonzenbach, The Media, The President, and Public Opinion: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Drug Issue, 1984-1991 (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996). Though intermedia agenda setting is not the primary focus of the following paper, the authors provide evidence of intermedia agenda-setting effects in the influence of the newspaper agenda on TV: Stefaan Walgrave, Stuart Soroka, and Michiel Nuytemans, “The Mass Media’s Political Agenda-Setting Power: A Longitudinal Analysis of Media, Parliament, and Government in Belgium (1993 to 2000),” Comparative Political Studies 41 (June 2008): 814-36. 11. Sharon Meraz, “Is There an Elite Hold? Traditional Media to Social Media Agenda Setting Influence in Blog Networks,” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 14 (April 2009): 682-707. 12. See Jennings Bryant and Dorina Miron, “Theory and Research in Mass Communication,” Journal of Communication 54 (December 2004): 662-704. 13. David Weaver, “Thoughts on Agenda Setting, Framing, and Priming,” Journal of Communication 57 (March 2007): 142-47. 14. Maxwell McCombs, Setting the Agenda: The Mass Media and Public Opinion (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2004). 15. McCombs, Setting the Agenda, 114. 16. Stephen Reese and Lucig Danielian, “InterMedia Influence and the Drug Issue: Converging on Cocaine,” in Communication Campaigns 190 JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY About Drugs: Government, Media and the Public, ed. Pamela Shoemaker (Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1989): 29-45. 17. Esteban Lopez-Escobar, Juan Pablo Llamas, Maxwell McCombs, and Federico Rey Lennon, “Two Levels of Agenda Setting among Advertising and News in the 1995 Spanish General Elections,” Political Communication 15 (March 1998): 225-38; Marilyn Roberts and Maxwell McCombs, “Agenda Setting and Political Advertising: Origins of the News Media,” Political Communication 11 (July-September 1994): 249-62. 18. Jeongsub Lim, “A Cross-Lagged Analysis of Agenda Setting Among Online News Media,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 83 (summer 2006): 298-312. 19. Lopez-Escobar et al., “Two Levels of Agenda Setting among Advertising and News in the 1995 Spanish Elections.” 20. Thomas P. Boyle, “Intermedia Agenda Setting in the 1996 Presidential Primaries,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 78 (spring 2001): 26-44; Roberts and McCombs, “Agenda Setting and Political Advertising.” 21. John Tedesco, “Issue and Strategy Agenda Setting in the 2004 Presidential Election: Exploring the Candidate-Journalist Relationship,” Journalism Studies 6 (May 2005): 187-201; Gyotae Ku, Lynda Lee Kaid, and Michael Pfau, “The Impact of Web Site Campaigning on Traditional News Media and Public Information Processing,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 80 (autumn 2003): 528-47. 22. McCombs, Setting the Agenda, 106. 23. Kaye D. Sweetser, Guy J. Golan, and Wayne Wanta, “Intermedia Agenda Setting in Television Advertising and Blogs During the 2004 Election,” Mass Communication and Society 11 (spring 2008): 197-216. 24. Michael Cornfield, Jonathan Carson, Alison Kalis, and Emily Simon, “Buzz, Blogs, and Beyond: The Internet and National Discourse in the Fall of 2004,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2005 [cited 2010]); available from http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/ wwwpewtrustsorg/News/Press_Releases/Society_and_the_Internet/ PIP_Blogs_051605.pdf. 25. Tedesco, “Issue and Strategy Agenda Setting in the 2004 Presidential Election,” 187. 26. Jason Yu and Debashis Aikat, “News on the Web: Agenda Setting of Online News in News Web Sites of Major Newspaper, Television, and Online News” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, New York, 2009). 27. Lada Adamic and Natalie Glance, “The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election: Divided They Blog” (2005 [cited 2006]), available from http://www.blogpulse.com/papers/2005/AdamicGlanceBlog WWW.pdf; Sharon Meraz, “Event Blogging the 2004 Conventions: Media Bloggers, Non-Media Bloggers, and Their Network Connections” (paper presented at the annual meeting of AEJMC, San Antonio, TX, 2004); Mark Tremayne, Nan Zheng, Jae Kook Lee, and Jaekwan Jeong, “Issue Publics on the Web: Applying Network Theory to the War Blogosphere,” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 12 (October 2006): 290-310. 28. Adamic and Glance, “The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE 191 Election,” 8; Meraz, “Event Blogging the 2004 Conventions”; Tremayne et al., “Issue Publics on the Web,” 14. 29. Most of the most popular political blogs are written by former journalists. Blogs like Talking Points Memo, Politico, and the Huffington Post were all started by former journalists or continue to employ journalists that depart the traditional media industry. The maturation and growth of the left-leaning blogosphere is well-documented by Matt Stoller, “What Is This New Movement, TPM Café, January 15, 2007, available from http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/coffeehouse/2007/ jan/15/what_is_this_new_movement. 30. Fowler, “Bill Clinton”; Fowler, “Obama.” 31. Walter Lippman, Public Opinion (New York: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1922); Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw, “The AgendaSetting Function of Mass Media,” Public Opinion Quarterly 36 (summer 1972): 176-87. 32. Cornfield et al., “Buzz, Blogs, and Beyond: The Internet and National Discourse in the Fall of 2004,” 17. 33. Meraz, “Is There an Elite Hold?”; Cornfield et al., “Buzz, Blogs, and Beyond”; Daniel Drezner and Henry Farrell, “The Power and the Politics of Blogs,” Public Choice 134 (January 2008): 15-30; Cameron Marlow, “Audience Structure in the Weblog Community” (paper presented at the annual meeting of AEJMC, New Orleans, 2004). 34. Though many of these blog aggregators use their own individual algorithms for determining popularity and relevance, and though the actual position of the political blog may differ in popularity as it relates to other genre-related blogs in technology and entertainment, all of these lists correlated on the most popular political blogs when this sample was developed in 2007. These twelve popular partisan blogs were ranked as more popular in a relative sense than other political blogs present in these top 100 blog lists. 35. The selection of moderate blogs involved a more complicated methodology, since moderate blogs rarely make it to top 100 blog lists due to lower audience readership. As such, popular moderate blogs were identified through the following techniques: (a) presence in the three aforementioned aggregators (Technorati, Truth Laid Bear, and BlogPulse); (b) popularity in the “Moderate Blog Advertising Network,“ a network listing the most popular moderate blogs and the dollar amount to advertise on each blog present in the network; (c) nomination in the Weblog Awards, a popular blog contest running since 2003, which takes net nominations for the most popular blogs, including those writing about politics; and (d) frequency of appearance in blogroll listings within both elite partisan popular blogs and within the blogrolls for other moderate blogs. The use of all of these techniques made it possible to select a sample of popular moderate blogs based on frequency of appearance in all of these indicators. 36. Reese and Danielian, “InterMedia Influence and the Drug Issue: Converging on Cocaine,” 6. 37. Conducting intercoder reliability studies for quantitative studies are essential, even for data that is coded in nominal content categories. 192 JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY See Matthew Lombard, Jennifer Snyder-Dutch, and Cheryl Campanella Bracken, “Content Analysis in Mass Communication: Assessment and Reporting of Intercoder Reliability,” Human Communication Research 28 (October 2002): 587-604; Steven Lacy and Daniel Riffe, “Sampling Error and Selecting Intercoder Reliability Samples for Nominal Content Categories,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 73 (winter 1996): 963-73; Richard H. Kolbe and Melissa S Burnett, “Content Analysis Research: An Examination of Applications with Directives for Improving Research Reliability and Objectivity,” Journal of Consumer Research 18 (September 1991): 243-50. 38. See Klaus Krippendorff, Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004). 39. The majority of time series analysis utilizing Granger causality has been done at the issue agenda-setting level, though the logic of Granger causality is highly appropriate for testing intermedia agenda setting (see citation 40). Aforementioned issue agenda-setting studies using Granger causality include the following: Brosius and Kepplinger, “The Agenda Setting Function of Television News: Static and Dynamic”; Gonzenbach, The Media, The President, and Public Opinion; Smith, “Newspaper Coverage and Public Concern about Community Issues”; and Soroka, Agenda Setting Dynamics in Canada. 40. Though it was not the original intent, one of the few studies to reveal intermedia agenda-setting effects using Granger causality is one conducted by Walgrave, Soroka, and Nuytemans, “The Mass Media’s Political Agenda-Setting Power,” 12. 41. See John R. Freeman, “Granger Causality and the Time Series Analysis of Political Relationships,” American Journal of Political Science 27 (May 1983): 327-58. 42. George E.P. Box and Gwilym M. Jenkins, Time Series Analysis: Forecasting and Control (San Francisco: Holden-Day Publications, 1976). 43. In utilizing Granger causality analysis to measure agenda-setting effects, it is common to substitute the words “agenda setting” for cause. In such situations, cause is a word that denotes agenda-setting effects. Upon running Granger causality tests, with the outcome of significant Ftests or t-tests, the independent variable in the equation is said to “Granger cause” the other. 44. Meraz, “Is There an Elite Hold?”; Marcus Messner and Marcia Watson Distaso, “The Source Cycle: How Traditional Media and Weblogs Use Each Other as Sources,” Journalism Studies 9 (June 2008): 447-63. 45. Adamic and Glance, “The Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election”; Meraz, “Is There an Elite Hold?”; Meraz, “Event Blogging the 2004 Conventions“; Tremayne et al., “Issue Publics on the Web.” 46. Chris Bowers and Matt Stoller, “ The Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere: A New Force in American Politics,” New Politics Institute, August 10, 2005, available from http://www.newpolitics.net/node /87?full_report=1; Stoller, “What Is This New Movement”; Matt Stoller, “Moving Away from the 1960s Left,” MyDD.com, December 31, 2006, available from http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/12/31/14534/097. USING TIME SERIES ANALYSIS TO MEASURE INTERMEDIA AGENDA-SETTING INFLUENCE 193 47. Amanda Ernst, “Huffington Post Defies Expectations, Reaches New Heights Post Election,” FishBowlNY, June 2, 2009, available from http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlny/new_media/huffington_ posts_traffic_more_than_doubles_year_over_year_149222.asp. 48. Meraz, “Is There an Elite Hold?” 49. The role of links as the currency for search engine visibility is documented in several articles and studies. Some pivotal articles include the following: Pan Bing, Helene Hembrooke, Thorsten Joachims, Lori Lorigo, Geri Gary, and Laura Granka, “In Google We Trust: Users’ Decisions on Rank, Position, and Relevance,” Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 12 (April 2007): 801-23; Jon Kleinberg, “Authoritative Sources in a Hyperlinked Environment,” Journal of the ACM 46 (September 1999): 604-32; Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Rajeev Motwani, and Terry Winograd, “The PageRank Citation Ranking: Bringing Order to the Web,” (1999 [cited 2010]), available from http://ilpubs.stanford.edu:8090 /422/. 50. See Meraz, “Is There an Elite Hold?” for a full review of the literature on issue characteristics and its effects on agenda setting. Also see David Weaver, Doris Graber, Maxwell McCombs, and Cham Eyal, Media Agenda-Setting in a Presidential Election: Issues, Images, and Interests (New York, NJ: Praeger, 1981). 51. Meraz, “The Blogosphere’s Gender Gap,” 139. 52. Eric Lawrence, John Sides, and Henry Farrell, “Self Segregation or Deliberation? Blog Readership Participation and Polarization in American Politics,“ Perspectives in Politics 8 (March 2010): 141-57. 194 JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY U.S. Copyright Law (title 17 of U.S. code) governs the reproduction and redistribution of copyrighted material. Downloading this document for the purpose of redistribution is prohibited. (MiyiflMItöl COiCiPTS I Agenda-Setting James W. Dearing Everett M. Rogers SAGE Publications International Educational and Professional Publisher Thousand Oaks London New Delhi Copyright © 1996 by Sage Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information address: SAGE Publications, Inc. 2455 Teller Road Thousand Oaks, California 91320 E-mail: order@sagepub.com SAGE Publications Ltd. 6 Bonhill Street London EC2A4PU United Kingdom SAGE Publications India Pvt. Ltd. M-32 Market Greater Kailash I New Delhi 110 048 India Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress ISBN 0-7619-0562-6 (c) ISBN 0-7619-0563-4 (p) ISSN 1057-7440 96 97 98 99 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Sage Production Editor: Michèle Lingre Citation instructions: When citing a Communication Concepts issue, please follow this reference style: Dearing, James W., & Rogers, Everett M. (1992), Communication Concepts 6: AgendaSetting. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. GOMMUNICATDON ©©IMOEFTS 6 AGENDA-SETTING J A M E S W. D E A R I N G E V E R E T T M. R O G E R S 1. What Is Agenda-Setting? The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about. Bernard Cohen (1963, p. 13) The definition of the alternatives is the supreme instrument of power. E. E. Schattschneider (I960, p. 68) Every social system must have an agenda if it is to prioritize the problems facing it, so that it can decide where to start work. Such prioritization is necessary for a community and for a society. The purpose of this book is to help readers understand the agenda-setting process, its conceptual distinctions, and how to carry out agenda-setting research. Agenda-Setting as a Political Process What is agenda-setting? The agenda-setting process is an ongoing competition among issue proponents to gain the attention of media 1 10 professionals, the public, and policy elites. Agenda-setting offers an explanation of why information about certain issues, and not other issues, is available to the public in a democracy; how public opinion is shaped; and why certain issues are addressed through policy actions while other issues are not. The study of agenda-setting is the study of social change and of social stability. What is an agenda, and how is one formed? An agenda is a set of issues that are communicated in a hierarchy of importance at a point in time. Political scientists Roger Cobb and Charles Elder (1972/1983) defined an agenda in political terms as "a general set of political controversies that will be viewed at any point in time as falling within the range of legitimate concerns meriting the attention of the polity" (p. 14). Although we conceptualize an agenda as existing at a point in time, clearly agendas are the result of a dynamic interplay. As different issues rise and fall in importance over time, agendas provide snapshots of this fluidity. Cobb and Elder (1972/1983) defined an issue as "a conflict between two or more identifiable groups over procedural or substantive matters relating to the distribution of positions or resources" (p. 32). That is, an issue is whatever is in contention (Lang & Lang, 1981). This two-sided nature of an issue is important in understanding why and how an issue climbs up an agenda. The potentially conflictual nature of an issue helps make it newsworthy as proponents and opponents of the issue battle it out in the shared "public arena," which, in modern society, is the mass media. The issues actually studied by agenda-setting scholars and reported in this volume, however, display the two-sided nature claimed by Cobb and Elder (1972/1983) only to a certain degree. For example, the abortion and gun-control issues seem to be definitely two-sided and conflictual. Certain other issues, such as the environment or drug abuse, seem to be more one-sided in that no one takes a public stand in favor of pollution or greater use of drugs. Even for these issues, however, issue opponents do exist who actively campaign for less attention and funding being given to an issue such as cancer prevention so that greater resources can be given to another issue that they are promoting on the national agenda. Yet there is another important aspect of an issue in addition to conflict. There are many social problems that never become issues even though proponents and opponents exist. Problems require exposure—coverage in the mass media—before they can be considered "public" issues. 3 Thus, we define an issue as a social problem, often conflictual, that has received mass media coverage. Issues have value because they can be used to political advantage (Ansolabehere & Iyengar, 1994). Although conflict is often what makes a social problem a public issue, as in the case of abortion, valence issues only have one legitimate side, such as drug abuse or child abuse (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993; Nelson, 1984). No one is publicly in favor of child abuse. For valence issues, proponents battle over how to solve the agreed-upon social problem and not whether a social problem exists. The perspective of Cobb and Elder (1972/1983) and Lang and Lang (1981) that an issue is two-sided and involves conflict reminds us that agenda-setting is inherently a political process. At stake is the relative attention given by the media, the public, and policymakers to some issues and not to others (Hilgartner & Bosk, 1988). We can think of issues as "rising or falling" on the agenda or "competing with one another" for attention. Issue proponents, individuals or groups of people who advocate for attention to be given to an issue, help determine the position of an issue on the agenda, sometimes at the cost of another issue or issues. Agenda-setting can be a "zero-sum game" because space and time on the media agenda are scarce resources (Zhu, 1992a). But sometimes, a hot issue does not supplant coverage of other issues, especially related issues (Hertog, Finnegan, & Kahn, 1994). An issue proponent might be a newsperson covering a famine in an African nation who shoots a spectacular 3Vi-minute news story in a refugee camp that is broadcast on U.S. evening television news. Because of the investment of time, effort, and firsthand experience, the reporter becomes a proponent of the famine as an important issue worthy of news attention and public concern. Attention to an issue, whether by media personnel, members of the public, or policymakers, represents power by some individuals or organizations to influence the decision process. The reporter covering the famine may have been influenced to shoot the story from a certain perspective because of discussions with a foreign government official who was frustrated with his or her country's lack of response to the famine. The visual power of the video footage, in turn, may influence an editor's decision about the relative importance of the famine news story in relation to other possible news stories. The news, when broadcast, influences millions of people in a variety of ways. Thousands of television viewers call an 800 telephone number to donate money and food. Some viewers work to change U.S. foreign policy about 10 11 disaster relief to the African nation. A Senate staff member drafts legislation in the name of her boss. Hundreds of newspaper editors and other media gatekeepers decide that the famine deserves prominent news coverage. Several newspaper readers write letters to the editor to protest U.S. government food aid in the face of poverty in America. Thus, the famine becomes a two-sided issue. Within a few weeks, the very real but little-known famine problem is transformed into the "famine issue" and climbs to the top of the media agenda in the United States. The reporter gets a promotion. The famine may continue to attract attention or it may not, depending on (a) competition from other issues, each of which has its proponents, and (b) the ability of proponents of the famine issue to generate new information about the famine so as to maintain its newsworthiness. So, whether we study television producers, interest group activists, or actions by U.S. senators, the process of influence, competition, and negotiation AS carried out by issue proponents is a dynamic driving the agendasetting process. Most communication scholars have not conceptualized agenda-setting as a political process. A better understanding of the agenda-setting process lies at the intersection of mass communication research and political science. Agenda-setting can directly affect policy. The issue of cigarette smoking is a dramatic example of the agendasetting process. Prior to 1970, smoking was a major social problem in America, with millions of people dying of cancer. It was not, however, an important public issue. Then, over the next 25 years, 30 million Americans quit smoking! How did this problem become an issue? The antismoking issue got on public agendas (for instance, citizens groups lobbied for legislation to force the airline industry to ban smoking on all flights), on media agendas (fewer characters, both heroes and villains, now smoke in prime-time television shows), and on policy agendas (the city of Los Angeles pioneered in banning all smoking in restaurants, a policy that spread to other cities). The social norm against smoking became accepted as a result of media advocacy, the strategic use of the mass media for advancing a public policy initiative (Wallack, 1990). Issues previously perceived to be the problems of individuals ("I don't like it when people smoke while I am eating") are redefined as a public problem requiring governmental remediation ("Restaurants should be required to offer nonsmoking sections"). Successful media advocacy essentially puts a specific problem, framed in a certain way, on the media agenda. Exposure through the mass media allows a social problem to be transformed into a public issue. Figure 1.1. Three Main Components of the Agenda-Setting Process: The Media Agenda, Public Agenda, and Policy Agenda SOURCE: Rogers and Dearing (1988). Media personalities and organizations engage in issue advocacy. For example, will the aggressive overseas marketing by U.S. cigarette manufacturers (that has led to more young smokers in Third World countries) become a public issue in the United States? Purposive attempts at agenda-setting by media personalities and organizations are often unsuccessful. Members of the U.S. media audience frequently reject the media's agenda of important issues. People "co-construct" what they see, read, and hear from the media with information drawn from their own lives (Neuman, Just, & Crigler, 1992) to create a meaning for some issue. The Media Agenda, Public Agenda, and Policy Agenda The agenda-setting process is composed of the media agenda, the public agenda, and the policy agenda, and the interrelationships among these three elements (Figure 1.1). A research tradition exists for each of these three types of agendas. The first research tradition is called media agenda-setting because its main dependent variable is the importance of 10 11 an issue on the mass media agenda. The second research tradition is called public agenda-setting because its main dependent variable is the importance of a set of issues on the public agenda. The third research tradition is called policy agenda-setting because the distinctive aspect of this scholarly tradition is its concern with policy actions regarding an issue, in part as a response to the media agenda and the public agenda. So, the agenda-setting process is an ongoing competition among the proponents of a set of issues to gain the attention of media professionals, the public, and policy elites. But agenda-setting was not originally conceptualized in this way. The Chapel Hill Study1 The term agenda-setting first appeared in an influential article by Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw in 1972. These scholars at the University of North Carolina studied the role of the mass media in the 1968 presidential campaign in the university town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For their study, they selected 100 undecided voters because these voters were "presumably those most open or susceptible to campaign information." These respondents were personally interviewed in a 3-week period during September and October 1968, just prior to the election. The voters' public agenda of campaign issues was measured by aggregating their responses to a survey question: "What are you most concerned about these days? That is, regardless of what politicians say, what are the two or three main things that you think the government should concentrate on doing something about?" (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Five main campaign issues (foreign policy, law and order, fiscal policy, public welfare, and civil rights) were mentioned most frequently by the 100 undecided voters, thus measuring the public agenda. The media agenda was measured by counting the number of news articles, editorials, and broadcast stories in the nine mass media that served Chapel Hill. McCombs and Shaw found an almost perfect correlation between the rank order of (a) the five issues on the media agenda (measured by their content analysis of the media coverage of the election campaign) and (b) the same five issues on the public agenda (measured by their survey of the 100 undecided voters). For instance, foreign policy was ranked as the most important issue by the public, and this issue was given the most attention by the media in the period leading up to the election. McCombs and Shaw concluded from their analysis that the mass media "set" the agenda for the public.2 Presumably, the public agenda was important in the presidential election because it determined who orie voted for, although McCombs and Shaw did not investigate any behavioral consequence of the public agenda. " What was the special contribution of the Chapel Hill study of agenda-setting? The methodologies for measuring the two conceptual variables were not new: Both (a) content analysis of mass media messages and (b) surveys of public opinion about an issue were by then common in mass communication research. McCombs and Shaw's linking of the two methodologies to test public agenda-setting was not a new contribution either. Twenty years earlier, F. James Davis (1952) had combined content analysis, survey research, and "real-wórld" indicators in testing the public agenda-setting hypothesis (although Davis had not called the process "agenda-setting"). A real-world indicator is a variable that measures more or less objectively the degree of severity or risk of a social problem. McCombs and Shaw's contribution was in clearly laying out the agenda-setting hypothesis, in calling the mediapublic agenda relationship "agenda-setting," in suggesting a paradigm for further research, and in training many excellent students who went on to carry out agenda-setting research of their own. Salience as the Key in Agenda-Setting Abortion is a highly charged, very emotional public issue in the United States. Should abortion be a legal option for pregnant women? Or should abortion be illegal? .Many scholars study public attitudes about abortion by surveying a sample of people. Other scholars study portrayals of abortion on television news to determine whether media coverage favors one viewpoint over another. But an agenda-setting scholar studying the abortion issue in the U.S. media would ask, "How 7 important is the abortion issue on television news?" "That is, how does the abortion issue compare with other issues in the amount of news coverage that it receives?" "Why is the abortion issue in the news?" "Why now?" A scholar might also ask individuals in a public opinion survey: "What is the most important problem facing the United States today? How about abortion?" Salience is the degree to which an issue on the agenda is perceived as relatively important. The heart of the agenda-setting process is when the salience of an issue changes on the media agenda, the public agenda, or the policy agenda. The task of the scholar of agenda-setting is to measure how the salience of an issue changes, and why this change occurs. Rather than focusing on positive or negative attitudes toward an issue, as most public opinion research does, agenda-setting scholars focus on the salience of an issue. This salience on the media agenda tells viewers, readers, and listeners "what issues to think about." Research on the agenda-setting process suggests that the relative salience of an issue on the media agenda determines how the public agenda is formed, which in turn influences which issues policymakers consider. Control of the choices available for action is a manifestation of power. Policymakers only act on those issues that reach the top of the policy agenda. History of Agenda-Setting Research Thomas Kuhn's (1962/1970) book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions provides one means for understanding the background of agendasetting research. Our focus is on how the paradigm for agenda-setting research was formed and the time sequence in which the main components of this paradigm were introduced as conceptual innovations (Table 1.1). Kuhn argues that the model of the development of a scientific specialty begins when scientists in a field are attracted to a new paradigm as a focus for their research. A paradigm is a scientific conceptualization that provides model problems and solutions to a community of scholars (Kuhn, 1962/1970, p. viii; Rogers, 1983, p. 43). Kuhn says that a scientific specialty does not advance in a series of small incremental steps as hypotheses are proposed, tested, and then revised, thus furthering knowledge. Instead, science moves forward in major jumps and starts. Pronounced discontinuities occur as a revolutionary paradigm is proposed; it offers an entirely new way of looking at some scientific problem. Table 1.1 Development of the Paradigm for Research on the Agenda-Setting Process Theoretical and Methodological Innovations in Studying the Agenda-Setting Process 1. Postulating a relationship between the mass media agenda and the public agenda Publication First Reporting the Scholarly Innovation Walter Lippmann (1922) 2. Identifying the status-conferral function of the Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Robert K. Merton (1948/1964) media, in which salience is given to issues 3. Stating the metaphor of agenda-setting Bernard C. Cohen (1963) 4. Giving a name to the agenda-setting process Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw (1972) 5. Investigating the public agenda-setting process for a hierarchy of issues Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw (1972) 6. Explicating a model of the policy agendasetting process Roger W. Cobb and Charles D. Elder (1972A983) 7. Initiating the over-time study of publicagenda-setting at a macro level of analysis, and investigating the relationship of realworld indicators to the media agenda G. Ray Funkhouser (1973a) 8. Experimentally investigating public agendasetting at a micro level of analysis Shanto Iyengar and Donald R. Kinder (1987) Famous examples are Copernicus's solar-centered universe, Einstein's relativity theory, Darwinian evolution, and Freud's psychoanalytic theory (most scientific paradigms are much less noteworthy than these examples). Each new paradigm initially attracts a furious amount of intellectual activity as scientists seek to test the new conceptualization, either to advance the new theory or to disprove it. Gradually, over a period of time, an intellectual consensus about the new paradigm develops among scientists in a field through a verification process. Then, scientific interest declines as fewer findings of an exciting nature are reported. Kuhn (1962/1970) calls this stage "normal science." Research becomes a kind of mopping-up operation. Eventually, a yet newer paradigm may be proposed, setting off another scientific revolution, when anomalies in the existing paradigm are recognized by the "invisible college" 3 of 10 11 Table 1.2 The Rise and Fall of the Paradigm for Agenda-Setting Research Stages in Kuhn's (1962/1970) Development of a Scientific Paradigm Main Events in the Development of the Paradigm far Agenda-Setting Research 1. Preparadigmatic work appears. Robert E. Park's (1922) The Immigrant Press and Its Control, Walter Lippmann's (1922) Public Opinion, and Bernard Cohen's (1963) The Press and Foreign Policy 2. The paradigm for agenda-setting research appears. Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw (1972) create the paradigm in their Chapel Hill study, which McCombs then follows up with further research over future years. Some 357 publications about agenda3. Normal science: An invisible college forms around the paradigm. setting appear from 1972 through 1994, in which the paradigm is supported and, in recent years, expanded in scope. 4. A decline in scholarly interest begins as the major research problems are solved, anomalies appear, and scientific controversy occurs. This stage has not yet occurred for agenda-setting research. 5. Exhaustion, as scientific interest in the paradigm shifts to the newer paradigm that replaces it. This stage has not yet occurred. scholars investigating the scientific problem of study. Table 1.2 lists the paradigmatic history of agenda-setting research. Robert E. Park, a sociologist at the University of Chicago from 1915 to 1935, and perhaps the first scholar of mass communication, conceived of media gatekeeping and implied what is today called the agenda-setting process: Out of all the events that happened and are recorded every day by correspondents, reporters, and the news agencies, the editor chooses certain items for publication which he regards as more important or more interesting than others. The remainder he condemns to oblivion and the waste basket. There is an enormous amount of news "killed" every day. (Park, 1922, p. 328) Park was distinguishing between problems that become public issues and those that don't. Walter Lippmann was a scholar of propaganda and public opinion who pioneered early thinking about agenda-setting. Among academics, this influential newspaper columnist and longtime presidential adviser is best known for his 1922 book Public Opinion, in which Lippmann wrote of "The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads." He argued that the mass media are the principal connection between (a) events that occur in the world and (b) the images of these events in our minds. Lippmann did not earn a graduate degree at a university (although he did study at Harvard), he never taught a university class, and he never adopted the research methods or the theoretical perspectives of social science. Yet he was the single most influential writer about the role of the mass media in shaping public opinion, eventually setting off the research tradition on agenda-setting. Lippmann did not use the term agenda-setting, however (see Table 1.1); nor did he think that research was needed on this process. Harold D. Lasswell, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, was one of the forefathers of communication study in the United States (Rogers, 1994). In a seminal 1948 chapter, Lasswell posed a five-part question that became a model for communication inquiry: Who says what to whom via which channels and with what effect? According to Lasswell, two of the most important functions that the mass media have in society are "surveillance" and "correlation." The surveillance function occurs when media newspeople scan their constantly changing information environment (alerted by police reports, announcements of local events, press releases, and such other sources as the Associated Press wire service) and decide which events should receive news attention. This weeding of potential stories via surveillance is now known as editorial gatekeeping (Shoemaker, 1991). Lasswell's (1948) notion of the "correlation of the parts of society in responding to the environment" (p. 38) describes communication performing the vital function of enabling a living organism like a society to synchronize the importance accorded to an issue by its constituent parts (such as the mass media, attentive public groups, and elected officials). Lasswell (1948) wrote that mass media, public groups, and policymakers each have discrete "attention frames" or periods of time during which they pay attention to certain issues. Lasswell believed that the media play the critical role in directing our attention to issues. The result, he suggested, was a correlation of attention on certain issues at 10 the same time by the media, the public, and policymakers. This idea was seized upon by McCombs and Shaw (1972) as the "agenda-setting function of the mass media." Forty years after publication of Lippmann's Public Opinion and 15 years after Lasswell's seminal chapter, a political scientist, Bernard Cohen, inspired by the work of Schattschneider (1960), further advanced the conceptualization of agenda-setting. Cohen (1963) observed, as we noted at the top of this chapter, that the press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about. . . . The world will look different to different people, depending . . . on the map that is drawn for them by writers, editors, and publishers of the [news]paper they read. (p. 13, italics added) Cohen thus expressed the metaphor that led to agenda-setting research (see Table 1.1). Agenda-setting was, however, still simply a theoretical idea, yet unnamed. The 1972 study by McCombs and Shaw set off a research paradigm that was adopted mainly by mass communication scholars, and to a lesser extent by political scientists, sociologists, and other scholars. The paradigm offered a new way to think about the power of the mass media. Prior to 1972, the dominant scholarly approach in mass communication research was to look for the direct effects of media messages in changing the attitudes of individuals in the audience. However, few such directional media effects were found. Many early mass communication scholars (a number of whom had been newspaper journalists before they earned PhDs) believed that the mass media affected the public in important ways, but the empirical research findings of that time only indicated minimal media effects and did not support their personal convictions. This anomaly led to dismay with the paradigm of directional media effects and, as Kuhn (1962/1970) would predict (see Table 1.2), led to a search for a new paradigm. The McCombs and Shaw article, with a spectacularly high rank-order correlation of +.98 between the salience of the five issues on the media agenda and their corresponding salience on the public agenda, provided empirical evidence that matched the scholars' beliefs about the power of the mass media. The media effects were cognitive rather than persuasive (which seemed reasonable to communication scholars with media experience, as newspapers should inform, giving both sides of an 11 issue, rather than seek to persuade individuals in the audience of one position). The McCombs and Shaw (1972) article is by far the most widely cited publication by agenda-setting scholars. Agenda-setting is one of the most popular topics in mass communication research, with about a dozen publications appearing each year for the past several decades. The paradigmatic study by McCombs and Shaw provided one means of empirically testing the media agenda-public agenda relationship, and thus of exploring an alternative paradigm to that of directional media effects. Their seminal article led not only to a proliferation of agendasetting studies but to a wide variety of conceptual and methodological approaches. For the first 15 years or so after 1972, the invisible college of agenda-setting scholars were in Kuhn's "normal science" phase, in which most empirical studies build incrementally on previous work. In the 1970s, however, agenda-setting scholars began to break out of their rather stereotyped mold of conducting one-point-in-time content analyses of the media agenda and audience surveys of the public agenda (Shaw & McCombs, 1977; Weaver, Graber, McCombs, & Eyal, 1981). Later, some scholars traced a single issue (drug abuse or the environment) over time as a time-ordered process. Other scholars (Iyengar & Kinder, 1987) conducted laboratory experiments of the public agendasetting process at the micro level of the individual (see Table 1.1). Respondents viewed doctored videos of evening television news broadcasts in which extra material was spliced in about a particular issue. As a result, the respondents subsequently ranked that issue higher on their agenda. The Search for Media Effects What attracts scholars to investigate agenda-setting? One main reason for the interest of mass communication researchers is that the agenda-setting paradigm appeared to offer an alternative to the scholarly search for directional media effects on individual attitudes and overt behavior change. Earlier mass communication research had found only limited media effects, which seemed counterintuitive to many mass communication researchers, especially to those who had previously worked in the mass media (Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw had both been newspaper reporters). Further, the early mass communication PhD graduates felt that the purpose of the media was mainly to inform 11 10 rather than to persuade. So they looked for cognitive effects, like the agenda-setting process, in which people are primed concerning what issues to think about. Many of the agenda-setting publications by mass communication researchers stated their main justification as an attempt to overcome the limited-effects findings of past mass communication research. For example, Maxwell McCombs (1981a) stated in an overview: Its [agenda-setting's] initial empirical exploration was fortuitously timed. It came at that time in the history of mass communication research when disenchantment both with attitudes and opinions as dependent variables, and with the limited-effects model as an adequate intellectual summary, was leading scholars to look elsewhere, (p. 121) Many mass communication scholars were initially attracted to agenda-setting research as an alternative to looking for individual-level directional media effects, which had often been found to be minimal. Essentially, public agenda-setting research investigates an indirect effect ("what to think about") rather than a direct media effect ("what to think"). So the agenda-setting paradigm came along just when mass communication scholars were dismayed with their previous model of direct media effects, exactly as Thomas Kuhn (1962/1970) predicted should happen in a scientific revolution. The new paradigm sent mass communication researchers in the direction of studying how media news coverage affected an issue's salience, rather than directional media effects. Recently, the contribution of agenda-setting research to understanding mass media effects was assessed: Despite important shortcomings, the agenda-setting approach has contributed to a more advanced understanding of the media's role in s o c i e t y . . . . It has helped to change the emphasis of mass communication research away from the study of short-term attitudinal effects to a more longitudinal analysis of social impact. This is no small contribution. (Carragee, Rosenblatt, & Michaud, 1987, p. 42) The agenda-setting effect is not the result of receiving one or a few messages but is due to the aggregate impact of a very large number of messages, each of which has a different content but all of which deal with the same general issue. For example, for 4 years after the first AIDS cases were reported in the United States (in 1981), the mass media carried very few news stories about the epidemic. The issue of AIDS was not yet on the media agenda, nor was the U.S. public very fully aware of the AIDS issue, so national poll results indicated. Then, in mid-1985, two news events (movie actor Rock Hudson's death from AIDS, and the refusal by the schools of Kokomo, Indiana, to allow a young boy with AIDS, Ryan White, to attend classes) suddenly led to a massive increase in media coverage of the AIDS issue. For example, six major media in the United States dramatically increased their coverage of AIDS from an average of 4 news stories per month to 15 news stories. The issue of AIDS climbed near the top of the national media agenda in early fall 1985. Almost immediately, public awareness of the epidemic increased until, in a few months, 95% of U.S. adults knew about AIDS and understood its means of transmission (Rogers et al., 1991). In addition to the directional media effects tradition out of which it grew as an alternative, public agenda-setting research is related to the following research fronts: 1. Bandwagon effects (O'Gorman, 1975), through which knowledge of the public's opinion about some issue influences other individuals toward that opinion 2. The spiral of silence (Noelle-Neumann, 1984), through which the perception of majority opinion about an issue mutes the expression of alternative opinions 3. Social movements (Blumer, 1971; Gamson, 1992), through which people act collectively to see that solutions to social problems emerge and eventually are implemented 4. Propaganda analysis (e.g., Lasswell, 1927), through which persuasive messages shape public opinion 5. The diffusion of news events (DeFleur, 1987; Deutschmann & Danielson, 1960), the process through which an important news event such as the 1986 Challenger disaster or Magic Johnson's announcement that he had contracted HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) is communicated to the public—usually such spectacular news events spread very rapidly to the public 6. Entertainment-education and Hollywood lobbying strategies (Montgomery, 1989,1993; Shefner & Rogers, 1992), through which an educational issue such as drunk driving or the environment is purposively placed in entertainment messages within prime-time television shows or popular music 10 11 7. Media advocacy (Wallack, 1990), through which media coverage of a prosocial issue, such as the health threat of cigarette smoking, is purposively promoted 8. Media gatekeeping (Shoemaker, 1991), the process through which an individual controls the flow of messages through a communication channel (examples of media gatekeepers are a newspaper editor and a television news director) 9. Media-system dependency (Ball-Rokeach, 1985), in which mass media organizations are influenced by the environment of other organizations and institutions, thus affecting the messages that are communicated through the media Generally unrelated to this stream of mass communication research on public agenda-setting is a research tradition on policy agenda-setting, mainly carried forward by political scientists and sociologists. Here the key question for political scientists such as John Kingdon (1984) is, "How does an issue get on the policy agenda?" and for sociologists such as Herbert Blumer (1971), "How does collective behavior coalesce around social problems?" Occasionally, they explicitly focus on the mass media by asking, "How may the mass media directly influence the policy agenda?" (Linsky, 1986). Because they recognize the role of networks of people who are linked together through concern about common issues, sociologists and political scientists have increasingly focused on the mobilization of resources by groups of people to affect policy change (Gamson, 1975; Lipsky, 1968; McCarthy & Zald, 1977). Intellectual boundaries are necessary for researchers to make sense of a topic of study and for a cumulative advance in understanding a research problem. Intellectual boundaries also inhibit learning between scholars working in different paradigms. The intellectual boundaries around the agenda-setting tradition should be broken down for a more comprehensive understanding of how social change occurs. Conflict, controversy, and negotiation (concepts that political scientists and international relations scholars use in understanding policy agendasetting) could advance our grasp of the role of proponents on media, public, and policy agendas. Media agenda research demonstrates the interrelationships of a particular media organization with events in the larger social system of which it is a part. To influence the issues that get on a media organization's news agenda is to exercise power, the use of social influence. Understanding how democracy works can be better achieved by studying the power of issues rather than the issue of power. Thus, agenda-setting investigations have mainly been conducted by scholars of mass communication and of political science. Measuring Agendas Three Research Traditions Public, media, and policy agendas, and real-world indicators, are typically measured as follows: Scholarly work on the agenda-setting process has evolved over the past 20 years as two distinct research fronts. One dealt mainly with public agenda-setting. The 1972 study by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw set off this research tradition, which has been mainly conducted by mass communication scholars. More than 100 publications report empirical investigations of the relationship between the media agenda and its corresponding public agenda. How the media agenda is set has only been investigated in fairly recent years. Our review shows fewer than 20 such publications. "Agendasetting research has consistently accepted the media agenda as a given without considering the process by which the agenda is constructed" (Carragee et al., 1987, p. 43). A variety of factors, including personality characteristics, news values, organizational norms and politics, and external sources affect the decision on "what's news" (Gans, 1979). Recent investigations show that (a) the New York Times, (b) the White House, (c) scientific journals, and (d) public opinion polling results play a particularly important role in putting an issue on the U.S. media agenda. These influential agenda-setters function to keep issues off the national agenda by ignoring them. 1. The public agenda is usually measured by public opinion surveys in which a sample of individuals is asked a question originally designed by George Gallup: "What is the most important problem facing this country today?" The aggregated responses to such an MIP (most important problem) question indicate the relative position of an issue on the public agenda. For example, in 1989, 54% of a national sample of Americans said that drugs were the most important issue facing Amer- 11 10 ica; 2 years later, this number dropped to only 4%, as the "War on Drugs" was pushed down the agenda by other issues. 2. The media agenda is usually indexed by a content analysis of the news media to determine the number of news stories about an issue or issues of study (e.g., the War on Drugs). The number of news stories measures the relative salience of an issue of study on the media agenda. Audience individuals presumably judge the relative importance of an issue on the basis of the number of media messages about the issue to which they are exposed. Historically, the public agenda was measured first (the MIP question was first asked by George Gallup in 1935). The content analysis measure of the media agenda was derived by McCombs and Shaw (1972) and Funkhouser (1973a) as a parallel to the MIP measure of the public agenda, focusing similarly on issues. 3. The policy agenda for an issue or issues is measured by such policy actions as the introduction of laws about an issue, by budget appropriations, and by the amount of time given to debate of an issue in the U.S. Congress. Measures of the policy agenda vary from study to study much more than do measures of the media agenda or of the public agenda, which are fairly standard. 4. Real-world indicators are often conceptualized by agenda-setting scholars as a single-variable indicator, such as the number of drugrelated deaths per year or the unemployment rate. Such real-world indicators are commonly accepted indexes of the severity of a social problem. Certain scholars constructed a composite real-world indicator made up of several component measures of an issue's severity. An example is Ader's (1993) real-world indicator for the environmental issue in the United States, which included variables for air pollution, oil spills, and solid waste (this study is reviewed in Chapter 2). Certain agenda-setting studies seek to understand the temporal dynamics of the agenda-setting process by analyzing the relationships between the media agenda, the public agenda, the policy agenda, and real-world indicators over time rather than cross-sectionally (at one point in time). In such longitudinal studies, a qualitative over-time method such as participant observation or a quantitative over-time method such as time-series analysis may be used. Several different data-gathering methods may be used in conjunction to ensure that measures are (a) valid (i.e., the scholar is really measuring what he or she intends to measure) and (b) reliable (the same conclusions would be Figure 1.2. The Drug Issue on the U.S. Media Agenda (above) and on the Public Agenda (below) SOURCE: Based on various sources. reached with other methods or by other scholars). Such multiple measurement of concepts is called triangulation, a topic to which we shall return as multimethod research (see Chapter 6). The Rise and Fall of the War on Drugs4 The issue of drug abuse rose gradually on the media agenda and the public agenda in the United States during the mid-1980s, with the drug-related death of basketball star Len Bias in 1986 arid First Lady Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign propelling the drug issue up the national agenda (Danielian & Reese, 1989). Education about drug abuse preventionbecame a $2 billion a year "industry," with much of the funding coming from the federal government. 11 10 The "real-world indicator" of the number of drug-related deaths per year, however, actually decreased during the 1980s (Kerr, 1986)! Nevertheless, the drug issue peaked on the public agenda in September 1989, when the New York Times-CBS News Poll found that 54% of the U.S. public said that drug abuse was the most important problem facing the nation (Figure 1.2). By January 1992, 28 months later, only 4% of the U.S. public felt that drugs were the number one problem facing the nation. What explains this rapid rise and fall of the drug issue on the public agenda? The media were reacting in part to a particular type of "realworld indicator": The use of cocaine in dangerous forms such as crack (Shoemaker, 1989, p. 4). Crack is smoked instead of snorted, creating a more immediate and more intense effect on the individual user. Crack cocaine is more addictive. Although crack had been i f used by some individuals in the United States for several years prior to 1986, it became more widely used in 1986. Adam Weisman (1986), a Washington, D.C. journalist, in a New Republic article titled, "I Was a Drug-Hype Junkie," wrote: "For a reporter at a national news organization in 1986, the drug crisis in America is more than a story, it's an addiction—and a dangerous one" (p. 14), Why and how did the drug problem suddenly command so much media attention in 1986? Both the New York Times and the White House helped set the media agenda for the drug issue. The New York Times assigned a reporter to cover illegal drugs full-time in November 1985, shortly after the Reverend Jesse Jackson visited Abe Rosenthal, then the newspaper's executive director, to stress the drug problem. The Times carried its first front-page story about crack cocaine on November 29,1985 (Kerr, 1986). When the Times considers an issue newsworthy, other U.S. media are influenced to follow suit. The death of Ail-American basketball star Len Bias on June 19, 1986, had a strong impact on the national agenda because he played for the University of Maryland: "The death of the young basketball player, in particular, had a startling impact on the nation's capital, where Maryland is virtually a home team" (Kerr, 1986, p. 1). On the day of his death, Bias had signed a professional contract with the Boston Celtics for $6 million. The death of such a promising young basketball player humanized the drug issue. The media responded to the death of Len Bias and to White House influences with a "crack att...

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