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Lecture Note 11

5 Pages

Communication Studies
Course Code
COMM 101

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Comm102 – Notes 11 – 3.11.14
Chapter 6: Agenda Setting
Agenda Setting
Agenda Setting – what you think
oA type of communication effect showing a strong link between importance
placed on issues by news media and importance of issues to public
oNews media set public agenda but causal direction between news media
and public difficult to establish in a compelling way
oPublic opinion measured before and after media coverage of issues
oElection campaigns suitable for study and popular among researchers
“Who sets the media agenda?”
oNews professionals set agenda for news consumers by gauging its
importance to readers and viewers
Ex. All King’s Men movie
Ex. Watergate scandal – story was controversial so it was put in the
back of the newspaper so it didn’t get as much attention
oGatekeeping – time and space restraints restrict information flow
oAttribute agenda setting – press coverage of certain issue attributes
influences voters
oFraming – viewpoints, sources used, and word choices invite people to
think about an issue in a particular way
Fetus vs. baby
Conceptual Roots
Conceptual Roots
oWalter Lippmann – columnist, social commentator
New geo-political tensions. He said world is getting complicated
and people don’t have ability or desire to grasp or understand
everything in the world.
oPseudo-environment – news is merely a reflection of reality and therefore
can be distorted
oNews-media projections create a pseudo-environment for news consumers
oMaterial presented presumes what consumers are concerned about
The Cognitive Paradigm
o1960-70s researchers rejected persuasion paradigm to explain agenda-
setting effects
oCognitive paradigm emerged
oThree factors influence each other bi-directionally
1. A person’s behavior
2. A person’s cognitive abilities
3. Environmental events
oEmphasizing or calling attention to certain characteristics of political
candidates influences consumer perceptions
oNews coverage of some matters and not others influences standards for
judgment of candidates
Research Tradition
oChapel Hill study – McCombs & Shaw, 1972
Voters queried before 1972 election to identify and rank issues of
importance to the public
Independent variable – actual content of local news media
Dependent variable – issue salience
Results – identical agendas for both public and news media
Transfer of salience – mass media communication influences the
public by selecting the important issues that set the agenda
If they say it’s important, audience thinks its important
Drawn from 1968 presidential election
oChapel Hill study results replicated in comparison of news publications
with official statistics
Public perceptions correlated to media coverage
Media coverage did not always represent actual reality of issues
and situations
oMcCombs and Shaw second study examined causal direction of agenda-
setting effects
oNext major study conducted in laboratory setting where researchers
manipulated versions of newscasts to different groups of viewers
oIssues identified by each group of viewers correlated with version of
newscast viewed
Agenda-Setting Research*
oPhase 1: Initial Study
Chapel Hill Study (1972), McCombs & Shaw
Issues considered important by news media also considered
important by general public
oPhase 2: Replication
Charlotte Voter Study (1977), McCombs & Shaw
Voters with greater orientation needs or who used mass
media more often were more likely to have agendas
matching media agenda
Laboratory Study (1982), Iyengar, Peters, & Kinder
Research participants who viewed stories about weak US
defense capabilities rated issue more important
oPhase 3: Contingent Factors
1976 Candidate Study (1981), Weaver, Graber, McCombs, & Eyal
Examined dynamics of voters’ perceptions of candidates and news
media portrayals
Contingent factors affect agenda-setting process

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Comm102 – Notes 11 – 3.11.14 Chapter 6: Agenda Setting Agenda Setting • Agenda Setting – what you think o A type of communication effect showing a strong link between importance  placed on issues by news media and importance of issues to public o News media set public agenda but causal direction between news media  and public difficult to establish in a compelling way o Public opinion measured before and after media coverage of issues o Election campaigns suitable for study and popular among researchers • “Who sets the media agenda?” o News professionals set agenda for news consumers by gauging its  importance to readers and viewers  Ex. All King’s Men movie  Ex. Watergate scandal – story was controversial so it was put in the  back of the newspaper so it didn’t get as much attention o Gatekeeping – time and space restraints restrict information flow o Attribute agenda setting – press coverage of certain issue attributes  influences voters o Framing – viewpoints, sources used, and word choices invite people to  think about an issue in a particular way  Fetus vs. baby Conceptual Roots • Conceptual Roots o Walter Lippmann – columnist, social commentator  New geo­political tensions. He said world is getting complicated  and people don’t have ability or desire to grasp or understand  everything in the world. o Pseudo­environment – news is merely a reflection of reality and therefore  can be distorted o News­media projections create a pseudo­environment for news consumers o Material presented presumes what consumers are concerned about • The Cognitive Paradigm o 1960­70s researchers rejected persuasion paradigm to explain agenda­ setting effects o Cognitive paradigm emerged o Three factors influence each other bi­directionally  1. A person’s behavior  2. A person’s cognitive abilities  3. Environmental events • Priming o Emphasizing or calling attention to certain characteristics of political  candidates influences consumer perceptions o News coverage of some matters and not others influences standards for  judgment of candidates • Research Tradition o Chapel Hill study – McCombs & Shaw, 1972  Voters queried before 1972 election to identify and rank issues of  importance to the public  Independent variable – actual content of local news media  Dependent variable – issue salience  Results – identical agendas for both public and news media   Transfer of salience – mass media communication influences the  public by selecting the important issues that set the agenda • If they say it’s important, audience thinks its important  Drawn from 1968 presidential election o Chapel Hill study results replicated in comparison of news publications  with official statistics  Public perceptions correlated to media coverage  Media coverage did not always represent actual reality of issues  and situations o McCombs and Shaw second study examined causal direction of agenda­ setting effects o Next major study conducted in laboratory setting where researchers  manipulated versions of newscasts to different groups of viewers o Issues identified by each group of viewers correlated with version of  newscast viewed • Agenda­Setting Research* o Phase 1: Initial Study  Chapel Hill Study (1972), McCombs & Shaw • Issues considered important by news media also considered  important by general public o Phase 2: Replication  Charlotte Voter Study (1977), McCombs & Shaw • Voters with greater orientation needs or who used mass  media more often were more likely to have agendas  matching media agenda  Laboratory Study (1982), Iyengar, Peters, & Kinder • Research participants who viewed stories about weak US  defense capabilities rated issue more important o Phase 3: Contingent Factors  1976 Candidate Study (1981), Weaver, Graber, McCombs, & Eyal  Examined dynamics of voters’ perceptions of candidates and news  media portrayals  Contingent factors affect agenda­setting process • Occupation • Education • Geographic location o Phase 4: Who Sets the Media Agenda?  Media Agenda Sources (1991), Shoemaker & Reese • Many influences on daily media agenda o Sociological factors related to news organization  and outside agencies o Ideological factors o Reporter and editor individuality o Media work routine • Recent Research o Many recent studies on attribute agenda setting and who sets the media  agenda o New explorations int
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