McCombs, Maxwell (1938–)

Maxwell E. McCombs, born in 1938 in Birmingham, Alabama, is one of the two founding fathers of empirical research on the agenda-setting function of the press. McCombs and his longtime research partner, Donald L. Shaw, first tested the hypothesis that the news media have a major influence on which issues the public considers important in the 1968 U.S. presidential election while they worked together as young professors of journalism at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The article that resulted from that study, “The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media,” which appeared in the summer 1972 issue of Public Opinion Quarterly, has become a classic and perhaps the most cited article in the field of mass communication research in the past 35 years. Since ...

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