The Formation of Campaign Agendas: A Comparative Analysis of Party and Media Roles in Recent American and British Elections

The Formation of Campaign Agendas: A Comparative Analysis of Party and Media Roles in Recent American and British Elections

The Formation of Campaign Agendas: A Comparative Analysis of Party and Media Roles in Recent American and British Elections

The Formation of Campaign Agendas: A Comparative Analysis of Party and Media Roles in Recent American and British Elections

Synopsis

This unusual volume seeks to accomplish three related goals:

• to assess the extent and limits of media power in election campaigns

• to extend the concept of media agenda-setting to include the contributions of powerful news sources in the process of election agenda formation

• to evaluate the impact of national system variables (differences in political and media systems) on the balance of party and media forces in the formation of campaign agendas

In the process, it searches for ways of measuring the discretionary power of the media in electoral politics, testing this in terms of the relative ability of journalists and politicians to shape election campaign agendas.

Excerpt

This comparative study was based on collaboration among a number of people and enjoyed the support of several institutions. the conceptual framework for the project began with conversations among Jay Blumler (University of Maryland and Leeds, England), Michael Gurevitch (University of Maryland), and David Weaver (Indiana University) in the spring of 1983 regarding Phillip Tichenor's Journalism Quarterly review of Media Agenda-Setting in a Presidential Election (Weaver et al., 1981) in which he argued that the interpretation of the discretionary decision-making power of the press remains open to continued scholarly debate. This criticism of previous agenda-setting research for not taking into account how much discretion the media have in setting agendas suggested that systematic evidence on the content of source agendas as compared with media agendas would be a useful addition to other mostly observational or interview-based studies dealing with the interrelationships of news sources and reporters, especially if done in a comparative cross-national study.

First author Holli Semetko (University of Michigan and formerly University of Leeds), did the most of any of us to make this book possible. She was responsible for the coordination of the entire book. Moreover, she took responsibility for the data collection, coding, and the development of the variables for the content analysis of the British television and press coverage of the 1983 general election campaign, in collaboration with Jay Blumler.

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