Agenda setting effects of mainstream news media on the public opinion

Jennifer A Smock, Purdue University


This study is a demonstration project. It introduces novel research methods utilizing information technology to analyze the agenda setting theory effects of news media on public opinion and to help in explanation of findings. Radian6, an online marketing platform, was used to evaluate the salience of influenza vaccination by correlating news and Twitter mentions over time, and evaluates the sentiment analyses of news and Twitter mentions on influenza vaccinations and organ donation. Using keywords on influenza vaccination and organ donation mentions, 3 months of mentions were gathered from news (N = 11,656; 2456, respectively) and Twitter (N = 73,944; 908). A significant correlation was found between news and Twitter on the influenza vaccinations over time, r(89) = 0.82, p<0.001. The news sentiments were significantly neutral in regard to the influenza vaccinations and organ donation (97.4%; 96.4%). The attitudes toward the flu shot were significantly more negative than positive (61.6%; 38.2%), χ2(1)<0.001, p<0.001, respectively and the attitudes toward organ donation were significantly more positive than negative (80.8%; 19.0%), χ 2(1)<0.001, p<0.001. This is the first application of information technology to a health topic and the findings are consistent with previous studies; thus, it is a valuable method in researching health topics without the inherent faults of other data collection methods. ^




David R. Black, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Journalism|Health Sciences, Public Health|Education, Health

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