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The News and Public Opinion: Media Effects on Civic Life

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4519-3
272 pages
October 2011, Polity
The News and Public Opinion: Media Effects on Civic Life (0745645194) cover image


The daily news plays a major role in the continuously changing mix of thoughts, feelings and behavior that defines public opinion. The News & Public Opinion details these effects of the news media on the sequence of outcomes that collectively shape public opinion, beginning with initial attention to the various news media and their contents and extending to the effects of this exposure on the acquisition of information, formation of attitudes and opinions and to the consequences of all these elements for participation in public life. Sometimes called the hierarchy of media effects, this sequence of outcomes describes the communication process involved in the formation of public opinion.

Although the media landscape is undergoing rapid change, key elements remain the same, and The News & Public Opinion emphasizes these basic principles of communication established over decades of empirical social science investigations into the impact of mass communication on public opinion. The primary audience for this book is students, both advanced undergraduates and graduate students, as well as members of the general public who want to understand the role of the news media in our civic life.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1. What Is Public Opinion?

Chapter 2. A Changing Communication Environment
Chapter 3. Reporting the News
Chapter 4. Trust in the News

Chapter 5. The Audiences for News
Chapter 6. Focusing Public Attention
Chapter 7. Learning from the News
Chapter 8. Forming Opinions
Chapter 9. Tone of the News
Chapter 10. Political Behavior
Chapter 11. What Citizens Bring to the News
Chapter 12. News Influence on Civic Life

Chapter 13. Assessing the Role of News in Civic Life


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Author Information

Max McCombs is Jesse H. Jones Centennial Chair in Communication at the School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin

R. Lance Holbert is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the School of Communication, Ohio State University

Spiro Kiousis is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Public Relations, University of Florida

Wayne Wanta is Professor and Chair of the Department of Journalism, University of Florida

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The Wiley Advantage

  • Introductory textbook on a major area of media and journalism studies.
  • Outlines the research across the key stages of the acquisition of information, formation of attitudes and opinions and to the consequences of all these elements for participation in public life.
  • Written by a highly experienced author team.
  • Balances coverage of new media innovations in news with enduring mainstream forms.
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"A well-written book which shows that the classical triangle of news media, politics and public opinion still has a strong mutual influence."
Political Studies Review

"This book is a masterful treatment of the relationship between news and public opinion. The authors examine the changing media environment, including entertainment news and blogs. The book looks at both process and effects (outcomes). The book is an important contribution to the literature on this vitally important topic."
William Benoit, Ohio University

"Unquestionably, The News and Public Opinion would be my first choice if asked to recommend a single book about the interface between news stories and the public's political views. This brief study is amazingly comprehensive in its range of topics and depth of analysis. The clear, smooth prose makes it a joy to read."
Doris Graber, University of Illinois at Chicago

"This concise and readable volume by one of the founders of media agenda-setting research and his noted colleagues reviews an impressive amount of research on today's changing communication environment and its influence on public opinion, knowledge, and political participation. As such, it will be valuable and accessible to all interested in these subjects for years to come!"
David Weaver, Indiana University-Bloomington

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