First level agenda-setting effects of the media in the 2016 U.S. presidential election
Tamsar, Timm Rainer
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Agenda-setting theory supposes that media sets the agenda for the public by transferring the salience of issues, candidates and attributes. The theory was first introduced in 1972 by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw, who studied the effects media had on the public during the 1968 election. They found a strong correlation between the two agendas. This paper will explain how the theory has grown since this first study. It will give a detailed overview of the two types of agenda-setting commonly recognized, explain the main concepts related to the theory and briefly explain current fields of research. An empirical study was conducted to observe the first level agenda-setting functions of the media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Both candidate and issue salience transference are studied and measured using correlation analysis. The first part of the empirical study observes candidate salience in cable news and measures to what extent was it transferred to the public in a short timeframe. The second empirical analysis studied issues salience transference across all media. The findings indicate that minor news items in cable news did not have an immediate agenda-setting effect for raising candidate salience. Secondly, there is evidence of issues transference, but due to limited data, no reliable conclusions can be made.
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