Agenda Setting (Media Studies)

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  • The idea that although the media can't tell people what to think, they do control what people think about. McCombs and Shaw were the first to propose an agenda-setting effect, in a study that focused on the 1968 presidential election in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In it, they found an extremely high correlation between the coverage of an issue and the public's perception of the importance of that issue. Over 250 subsequent studies have since examined agenda setting. Although largely supportive of the concept, researchers have looked at other variables in conjunction with media coverage—such as environmental circumstances or interpersonal experience—that were also found to have effects on public opinion. For more information, see McCombs and Shaw (1972).

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