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Setting Political Agendas 2008. Voters and their News Media. MEDIA AGENDA. PUBLIC AGENDA. A map of agenda setting and its consequences. Adapted from Setting the Agenda: The Mass Media and Public Opinion (McCombs, 2004). Object Salience. Object Salience. Traditional agenda setting.

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setting political agendas 2008

Setting PoliticalAgendas 2008

Voters and their News Media




A map of agenda setting and its consequences. Adapted from Setting the Agenda: The Mass Media and Public Opinion (McCombs, 2004).

Object Salience

Object Salience

Traditional agenda setting

Forming an opinion

Strength of opinion



Need for orientation & other contingent conditions

Direction of opinion

Attribute Salience

Attribute priming

Attribute Salience

Attribute agenda setting

four objectives
Four objectives
  • Identify what media agendas about candidates and issues are available to and accessed by voters in 2008;
  • assess what voters learn from these media agendas;
  • assess the media’s influence on voters’ political judgments;
  • identify how media (in particular television and newspaper) agendas about presidential elections are set.
obj 1 media agendas
Obj. 1: Media agendas
  • RQ1. What news sources are preferred by Chapel Hill voters in 2008?
  • RQ2. What topics and attributes related to the candidates and campaign issues are salient in these preferred news sources?
relevant hypotheses
Relevant Hypotheses
  • H1. The news media set the voters’ agenda of important topics related to the candidates and campaign issues in the 2008 presidential election.
  • H2. The news media set the voters’ agenda of important attributes related to the candidates and campaign issues in the 2008 presidential election.
  • H5. Voters meld topics and attributes from “vertical” and “horizontal” media in constructing their political judgments.
content analysis
Content Analysis
  • Content analyses of news sources will be conducted from January, 2008 through the election.
  • The sample news content will be determined by the results of the fall 2007 media use survey of Chapel Hill-Carrboro voters and audience research from syndicated sources.
media sources
Media Sources
  • The 1968 study included the New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and the evening newscasts of NBC (WNCN Ch. 17) and CBS (WRAL Ch. 5). Local media included the Durham Morning Herald and The Raleigh News & Observer.
  • To reflect voters’ current media diets, additional media will be selected based on research.
media sources cont
Media Sources (cont.)
  • Washington Post, ABC (WTVD Ch. 11) Evening News, Cable News (CNN, Fox,) Internet news sites (,, Internet sites associated with traditional media choices (e.g.,, candidate web sites, citizen-created websites (e.g. YouTube), radio (National Public Radio, Limbaugh - WPTF-AM; Stephanie Miller - WCHL-AM).
data collection
Data Collection
  • Actual newspapers, magazines, and broadcasts will be collected and archived.
  • TV broadcasts will be recorded via videotape or DVD; radio via MP3. Electronic retrieval (Lexus, Factiva, Vanderbilt) is an alternative for some but not all media and supplemental online data collection methods will be developed.
  • The news content will be coded into issues and prominence of the story will be noted.
  • The issues coded will include those from 1968 (foreign policy, law and order, fiscal policy, public welfare, civil rights) plus additional issues specific to the 2008 campaign (identified through focus groups/surveys, along with issues on candidates’ competencies and moral characters.).
coding cont
Coding (cont.)
  • Stories about the campaign itself will be coded as in 1968 (polls, campaign events, campaign analyses).
  • Issue attributes will be coded based on results of focus groups and the survey and on separate coding designed to identify issue attributes.
conceptualization purpose
Conceptualization & Purpose
  • Identify the problem.
  • Review theory and research.
  • Pose specific research questions & hypotheses.
  • Define relevant content.
  • Specify formal design.
  • Create dummy tables.
  • Operationalize (coding & protocol sheets).
  • Specify population & sampling plans.
  • Pretest & establish reliability procedures.