ERIC Number: ED187653
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-May
Reference Count: 0
Voters and the Mass Media: Information-Seeking, Political Interest, and Issue Agendas.
McCombs, Maxwell; Weaver, David
A study to determine the agenda-setting role of the mass media concerning the political interests of the general public during the 1976 presidential campaign is reported. Agenda-setting refers to the transfer of concerns from the media to the general public. The concept is concerned with cognitions rather than attitudes. It has been stated that while the press may not tell us what to think, it definitely tells us what to think about. The sample consisted of 45 registered voters who responded to nine interviews conducted throughout 1976 and in January 1977. In investigating the relationship between media coverage of issues and the salience of issues to voters, the survey measured the extent to which an individual feels an issue is important to him/her (intrapersonal salience) and the extent to which an issue is discussed by an individual to others (interpersonal salience). Results indicate that participants' use of the mass media increases quickly in the election year, peaking in early spring, then dropping off to a lower plateau for the remainder of the year. Initially, political interest influences media use, but heavy media use in the spring, particularly television news, then stimulates political interest. However, use of newspapers for political information generally is a stronger predictor of both interpersonal and intrapersonal issues. The conclusion is that the agenda-setting role for television is the stimulation of public interest, while the dominant role for the newspapers is setting the agenda of issues. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Prepared for the American Association for Public Opinion Research (Buck Hill Falls, PA, May 19-22, 1977).