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Chapter 30—Agenda-Setting Theory

One of the most famous political statements about the agenda-setting function of the media is Spiro Agnew’s “Television News Coverage” speech (transcript of the speech is available online at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/spiroagnewtvnewscoverage.htm).  Focusing on recent news coverage of Nixon’s handling of the war in Indochina, the Vice President argued that the liberal media elite unfairly influence both what Americans think about (agenda-setting) and how they think about it (framing).  Somewhat ironically, Agnew’s successful attack on the press’s power demonstrated a very different point—the ability of politicians and their spin doctors to use media outlets to shape public opinion. 

 

Theoretical considerations

Amélie Godefroidt, Anna Berbers, and Leen d’Haenens, “What’s in a Frame? A Comparative Content Analysis of American, British, French, and Russian News Articles,” International Communication Gazette, Vol. 78, 2016, pp. 777-801.

Leo W. Jeffres, “Mass Communication Theories in a Time of Changing Technologies,” Mass Communication and Society, Vol. 18, 2015, pp. 523-530.

Amie Kreppel and Buket Oztas, “Leading the Band or Just Playing the Tune? Reassessing the Agenda-Setting Powers of the European Commission,” Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 50, 2017, pp. 1118-1150.

Lei Guo, Hong Tien Vu, and Maxwell McCombs, “An Expanded Perspective on Agenda-Setting Effects: Exploring the Third Level of Agenda Setting,” Revista de Comunicación, 2012, pp. 1151-68.

Maxwell E. McCombs, Donald L. Shaw, and David H. Weaver, “New Directions in Agenda-Setting Theory and Research,” Mass Communication and Society,Vol. 17, 2014, pp. 781-802.

W. Russell Neuman, Lauren Guggenheim, S. Mo Jang, and Soo Young Bae, “The Dynamics of Public Attention: Agenda-Setting Theory Meets Big Data,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 64, 2014, pp. 193-214.

Joaquín Trigueros and Ivan Lacasa-Mas, “Colloquy with Maxwell McCombs at the University of Texas at Austin: Agenda Setting, a Limitless Theory in a Connected World,” Church, Communication and Culture, Vol. 3, 2018, pp. 53-74.

Chris J. Vargo and Lei Guo, L. “Networks, Big Data, and Intermedia Agenda Setting: An Analysis of Traditional, Partisan, and Emerging Online U.S. News,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Vol. 94, 2017, pp. 1031-1055.

Hong Tien Vu, Lei Guo, and Maxwell E. McCombs, “Exploring ‘the World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads’: A Network Agenda-Setting Study,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 91, 2014, pp. 669-686.

 

The media’s gatekeeping function

Bruce A. Williams and Michael X. Delli Carpini, “Monica and Bill All the Time and Everywhere: The Collapse of Gatekeeping and Agenda-Setting in the New Media Environment,” American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 47, 2004, pp. 1208-1230.

Monika Djerf-Pierre and Adam Shehata, “Still an Agenda Setter: Traditional News Media and Public Opinion During the Transition From Low to High Choice Media Environments,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 67, 2017, pp. 733-757.

Alexander Fouirnaies, “When Are Agenda Setters Valuable?,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 62, 2018, pp. 176-191.

Mark Lee Hunter, Luk N. Van Wassenhove, Maria Besiou, and Mignon van Halderen, “The Agenda-Setting Power of Stakeholder Media,” California Management Review, Vol. 56, 2013, pp. 24-49.

Kathleen Searles and Glen Smith, “Who's the Boss? Setting the Agenda in a Fragmented Media Environment,” International Journal of Communication, Vol. 10, 2016, pp. 2074-2095.

 

Agenda-setting in sports

James R. Angelini and Andrew C. Billings, A. C. “An Agenda That Sets the Frames: Gender, Language, and NBC's Americanized Olympic Telecast,” Journal of Language & Social Psychology, Vol. 29, 2010, pp. 363-385.

Ari Kim, Moonhoon Choi, and Kyriaki Kaplanidou, “The Role of Media in Enhancing People's Perception of Hosting a Mega Sport Event: The Case of Pyeongchang's Winter Olympics Bids,” International Journal of Sport Communication, Vol. 8, 2015, pp. 68-86.

Laureen M. Burch, Evan L. Frederick, Matthew H. Zimmerman, and Galen E. Clavio, “Agenda-Setting and La Copa Mundial: Marketing Through Agenda-Setting on Soccer Blogs During the 2010 World Cup,” International Journal of Sport Management & Marketing, Vol. 10, 2011, pp. 213-231.

Andrea Eagleman, Lauren M. Burch, and Ryan Vooris, “A Unified Version of London 2012: New-Media Coverage of Gender, Nationality, and Sport for Olympics Consumers in Six Countries,” Journal of Sport Management, Vol. 28, 2014, pp. 457-470.

John A. Fortunato, “Agenda-Setting Through the Television Programming Schedule: An Examination of Major League Baseball on Fox,” JMM: The International Journal on Media Management, Vol. 18, 2016, pp. 163-180.

Kevin Hull and Annelie Schmittel, “A Fumbled Opportunity? A Case Study of Twitter’s Role in Concussion Awareness Opportunities During the Super Bowl,” Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 39, 2015, pp. 78-94.

Matthew H. Zimmerman, Galen E. Clavio, and Choong Hoon Lim, “Set the Agenda Like Beckham: A Professional Sports League's Use of YouTube to Disseminate Messages to Its Users,” International Journal of Sport Management & Marketing, Vol. 10, 2011, pp. 180-195.

 

Agenda-setting in politics

Lei Guo, Yi-Ning Katherine Chen, Hong Vu, Qian Wang, Radoslaw Aksamit, Damian Guzek, Marek Jachimowski, and Maxwell McCombs, “Coverage of the Iraq War in the United States, Mainland China, Taiwan and Poland: A Transnational Network Agenda-Setting Study,” Journalism Studies, Vol. 16, 2015, pp. 343-362.

Ashley Muddiman, Natalie Jomini Stroud, and Maxwell McCombs, “Media Fragmentation, Attribute Agenda Setting, and Political Opinions About Iraq,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 58, 2014, pp. 215-233.

Kathleen Raso and Robert J. Neubauer, R. J. “Managing Dissent: Energy Pipelines and ‘New Right’ Politics in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol. 41, 2016, pp. 115-133.

Donald L. Shaw, Thomas C. Terry, and Milad Minooie, “Military Communication Strategies Based on How Audiences Meld Media and Agendas,” Military Review, Vol. 95, 2015, pp. 16-28.

Daphne van der Pas, “Making Hay While the Sun Shines: Do Parties Only Respond to Media Attention When the Framing Is Right?,” International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 19, 2014, pp. 42-65.

Chris J. Vargo, Lei Guo, Maxwell McCombs, and Donald L. Shaw, “Network Issue Agendas on Twitter During the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 64, 2014, pp. 296-316.

Michelle Wolfe, Bryan D. Jones, and Frank R. Baumgartner, “A Failure to Communicate: Agenda Setting in Media and Policy Studies,” Political Communication, Vol. 30, 2013, pp. 175-192.

 

Other applied contexts

Helen Dixon, Charles Warne, Maree Scully, Suzanne Dobbinson, and Melanie Wakefield, “Agenda-Setting Effects of Sun-Related News Coverage on Public Attitudes and Beliefs About Tanning and Skin Cancer,” Health Communication, Vol. 29, 2014, pp. 173-181.

Jiyoon (Karen) Han, Seungae Lee, and Maxwell McCombs, “The Attribute Agenda-Setting Influence of Online Community on Online Newscast: Investigating the South Korean Sewol Ferry Tragedy,” Asian Journal of Communication, Vol. 27, 2017, pp. 601-615.

Pavlos C. Symeou, Philemon Bantimaroudis, and Stelios C. Zyglidopoulos, “Cultural Agenda Setting and the Role of Critics: An Empirical Examination in the Market for Art-House Films,” Communication Research, Vol. 42, 2015, pp. 732-754.

Larissa Terán and Tara M. Emmers-Sommer, “‘The Destruction of a Legacy’: Agenda Setting and the Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Allegations,” Sexuality & Culture, Vol. 22, 2018, pp. 63-89.



You can access Further Resouces for a particular chapter in several ways:

  • Switch to View by Theory, then select the desired theory/chapter from the drop-down list at the top of the page. Look in the list of available resources.
  • To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
  • You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.

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Instructors can get
additional resources.
Read more

New to Theory
Resources?

Find out more
in this short
video overview
(3:01).

Further Resources
10th Edition
CHANGE TO
View by Theory

Scholarly and artistic references from the Instructors Manual and addition to the website


List mode: Normal (click on theory name to show detail) | Show All details | Clear details

Chapter 30—Agenda-Setting Theory

One of the most famous political statements about the agenda-setting function of the media is Spiro Agnew’s “Television News Coverage” speech (transcript of the speech is available online at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/spiroagnewtvnewscoverage.htm).  Focusing on recent news coverage of Nixon’s handling of the war in Indochina, the Vice President argued that the liberal media elite unfairly influence both what Americans think about (agenda-setting) and how they think about it (framing).  Somewhat ironically, Agnew’s successful attack on the press’s power demonstrated a very different point—the ability of politicians and their spin doctors to use media outlets to shape public opinion. 

 

Theoretical considerations

Amélie Godefroidt, Anna Berbers, and Leen d’Haenens, “What’s in a Frame? A Comparative Content Analysis of American, British, French, and Russian News Articles,” International Communication Gazette, Vol. 78, 2016, pp. 777-801.

Leo W. Jeffres, “Mass Communication Theories in a Time of Changing Technologies,” Mass Communication and Society, Vol. 18, 2015, pp. 523-530.

Amie Kreppel and Buket Oztas, “Leading the Band or Just Playing the Tune? Reassessing the Agenda-Setting Powers of the European Commission,” Comparative Political Studies, Vol. 50, 2017, pp. 1118-1150.

Lei Guo, Hong Tien Vu, and Maxwell McCombs, “An Expanded Perspective on Agenda-Setting Effects: Exploring the Third Level of Agenda Setting,” Revista de Comunicación, 2012, pp. 1151-68.

Maxwell E. McCombs, Donald L. Shaw, and David H. Weaver, “New Directions in Agenda-Setting Theory and Research,” Mass Communication and Society,Vol. 17, 2014, pp. 781-802.

W. Russell Neuman, Lauren Guggenheim, S. Mo Jang, and Soo Young Bae, “The Dynamics of Public Attention: Agenda-Setting Theory Meets Big Data,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 64, 2014, pp. 193-214.

Joaquín Trigueros and Ivan Lacasa-Mas, “Colloquy with Maxwell McCombs at the University of Texas at Austin: Agenda Setting, a Limitless Theory in a Connected World,” Church, Communication and Culture, Vol. 3, 2018, pp. 53-74.

Chris J. Vargo and Lei Guo, L. “Networks, Big Data, and Intermedia Agenda Setting: An Analysis of Traditional, Partisan, and Emerging Online U.S. News,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Vol. 94, 2017, pp. 1031-1055.

Hong Tien Vu, Lei Guo, and Maxwell E. McCombs, “Exploring ‘the World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads’: A Network Agenda-Setting Study,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 91, 2014, pp. 669-686.

 

The media’s gatekeeping function

Bruce A. Williams and Michael X. Delli Carpini, “Monica and Bill All the Time and Everywhere: The Collapse of Gatekeeping and Agenda-Setting in the New Media Environment,” American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 47, 2004, pp. 1208-1230.

Monika Djerf-Pierre and Adam Shehata, “Still an Agenda Setter: Traditional News Media and Public Opinion During the Transition From Low to High Choice Media Environments,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 67, 2017, pp. 733-757.

Alexander Fouirnaies, “When Are Agenda Setters Valuable?,” American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 62, 2018, pp. 176-191.

Mark Lee Hunter, Luk N. Van Wassenhove, Maria Besiou, and Mignon van Halderen, “The Agenda-Setting Power of Stakeholder Media,” California Management Review, Vol. 56, 2013, pp. 24-49.

Kathleen Searles and Glen Smith, “Who's the Boss? Setting the Agenda in a Fragmented Media Environment,” International Journal of Communication, Vol. 10, 2016, pp. 2074-2095.

 

Agenda-setting in sports

James R. Angelini and Andrew C. Billings, A. C. “An Agenda That Sets the Frames: Gender, Language, and NBC's Americanized Olympic Telecast,” Journal of Language & Social Psychology, Vol. 29, 2010, pp. 363-385.

Ari Kim, Moonhoon Choi, and Kyriaki Kaplanidou, “The Role of Media in Enhancing People's Perception of Hosting a Mega Sport Event: The Case of Pyeongchang's Winter Olympics Bids,” International Journal of Sport Communication, Vol. 8, 2015, pp. 68-86.

Laureen M. Burch, Evan L. Frederick, Matthew H. Zimmerman, and Galen E. Clavio, “Agenda-Setting and La Copa Mundial: Marketing Through Agenda-Setting on Soccer Blogs During the 2010 World Cup,” International Journal of Sport Management & Marketing, Vol. 10, 2011, pp. 213-231.

Andrea Eagleman, Lauren M. Burch, and Ryan Vooris, “A Unified Version of London 2012: New-Media Coverage of Gender, Nationality, and Sport for Olympics Consumers in Six Countries,” Journal of Sport Management, Vol. 28, 2014, pp. 457-470.

John A. Fortunato, “Agenda-Setting Through the Television Programming Schedule: An Examination of Major League Baseball on Fox,” JMM: The International Journal on Media Management, Vol. 18, 2016, pp. 163-180.

Kevin Hull and Annelie Schmittel, “A Fumbled Opportunity? A Case Study of Twitter’s Role in Concussion Awareness Opportunities During the Super Bowl,” Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 39, 2015, pp. 78-94.

Matthew H. Zimmerman, Galen E. Clavio, and Choong Hoon Lim, “Set the Agenda Like Beckham: A Professional Sports League's Use of YouTube to Disseminate Messages to Its Users,” International Journal of Sport Management & Marketing, Vol. 10, 2011, pp. 180-195.

 

Agenda-setting in politics

Lei Guo, Yi-Ning Katherine Chen, Hong Vu, Qian Wang, Radoslaw Aksamit, Damian Guzek, Marek Jachimowski, and Maxwell McCombs, “Coverage of the Iraq War in the United States, Mainland China, Taiwan and Poland: A Transnational Network Agenda-Setting Study,” Journalism Studies, Vol. 16, 2015, pp. 343-362.

Ashley Muddiman, Natalie Jomini Stroud, and Maxwell McCombs, “Media Fragmentation, Attribute Agenda Setting, and Political Opinions About Iraq,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 58, 2014, pp. 215-233.

Kathleen Raso and Robert J. Neubauer, R. J. “Managing Dissent: Energy Pipelines and ‘New Right’ Politics in Canada,” Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol. 41, 2016, pp. 115-133.

Donald L. Shaw, Thomas C. Terry, and Milad Minooie, “Military Communication Strategies Based on How Audiences Meld Media and Agendas,” Military Review, Vol. 95, 2015, pp. 16-28.

Daphne van der Pas, “Making Hay While the Sun Shines: Do Parties Only Respond to Media Attention When the Framing Is Right?,” International Journal of Press/Politics, Vol. 19, 2014, pp. 42-65.

Chris J. Vargo, Lei Guo, Maxwell McCombs, and Donald L. Shaw, “Network Issue Agendas on Twitter During the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election,” Journal of Communication, Vol. 64, 2014, pp. 296-316.

Michelle Wolfe, Bryan D. Jones, and Frank R. Baumgartner, “A Failure to Communicate: Agenda Setting in Media and Policy Studies,” Political Communication, Vol. 30, 2013, pp. 175-192.

 

Other applied contexts

Helen Dixon, Charles Warne, Maree Scully, Suzanne Dobbinson, and Melanie Wakefield, “Agenda-Setting Effects of Sun-Related News Coverage on Public Attitudes and Beliefs About Tanning and Skin Cancer,” Health Communication, Vol. 29, 2014, pp. 173-181.

Jiyoon (Karen) Han, Seungae Lee, and Maxwell McCombs, “The Attribute Agenda-Setting Influence of Online Community on Online Newscast: Investigating the South Korean Sewol Ferry Tragedy,” Asian Journal of Communication, Vol. 27, 2017, pp. 601-615.

Pavlos C. Symeou, Philemon Bantimaroudis, and Stelios C. Zyglidopoulos, “Cultural Agenda Setting and the Role of Critics: An Empirical Examination in the Market for Art-House Films,” Communication Research, Vol. 42, 2015, pp. 732-754.

Larissa Terán and Tara M. Emmers-Sommer, “‘The Destruction of a Legacy’: Agenda Setting and the Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Allegations,” Sexuality & Culture, Vol. 22, 2018, pp. 63-89.



You can access Further Resouces for a particular chapter in several ways:

  • Switch to View by Theory, then select the desired theory/chapter from the drop-down list at the top of the page. Look in the list of available resources.
  • To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
  • You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.

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