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Agenda Setting in a 2.0

World: New Agendas in

Guy J. Golan

S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at

Syracuse University
Published online: 10 Sep 2014.

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To cite this article: Guy J. Golan (2014) Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World: New Agendas
in Communication, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 58:3, 476-477, DOI:
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Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World: New

Agendas in Communication
Guy J. Golan

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Johnson, T. J. (2013). Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World: New Agendas in

Communication. New York, NY: Routledge. 289 pages.

Four decades of agenda setting scholarship have yielded hundreds of empirical

studies that tested and supported the transfer of issue salience from the media
to the public agenda as predicted by the original McCombs and Shaw (1972)
study. Over the years, agenda setting scholarship evolved into five main areas
of investigation: the original hypothesis, attribute agenda setting, its contingent
conditions, the sources of the media agenda, and its consequences (McCombs,
2005). Recently, some scholars have argued that the diffusion of online and social
media platforms may necessitate a reexamination of the basic nature of agenda
setting in the modern era.
Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World, edited by University of Texas professor Thomas
Johnson, includes a dozen chapters written by a relatively new generation of agenda
setting researchers, including widely published scholars such as Sebastian Valenzuela, Sharon Meraz, and Matthew Ragas. As noted by the editor, the content of
the book was gathered from a 2011 agenda setting conference that was held at the
University of Texas in honor of Professor Max McCombs.
The rationale for the book is to provide a much needed examination of the agenda
setting process in response to the new media environment that potentially reshaped
the mediaaudience relationship. As noted by Johnson in the introduction and later
by Tran (chapter 10), there is a growing body of literature that examines agenda
setting and the Internet. Several of the contributors argued for the need to examine
the influence of social media and the Internet on the agenda setting process along
with the modern online media ecology.
As noted by Johnson, the book focuses on six different areas including social
media and Web sites, the contingent conditions of agenda setting, agenda setting
Guy J. Golan (Ph.D., University of Florida) is associate professor in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public
Communications at Syracuse University. His research focuses on international and political communications.
2014 Broadcast Education Association
DOI: 10.1080/08838151.2014.935946

Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 58(3), 2014, pp. 476477

ISSN: 0883-8151 print/1550-6878 online


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outside of political communications, the different levels of agenda setting, issue

salience, and behavioral consequences. As such, most book chapters have little in
common with one another beyond the inclusion of the agenda setting concept and
the Internet case studies. Collectively, the book lacks a comprehensive theoretical
focus. This key limitation is common to many edited volumes in the field of mass
Regardless, I found the research outlined in the book to be interesting. For example, building upon his previous scholarship, Valenzuelas chapter provides an
important discussion of the psychological processes that impact the transfer of
salience between the news media and the public agenda.
Additionally, Lei Guos chapter discusses the so-called third-level of agenda
setting. Based on a network analysis perspective, the chapter identifies a combined
object-attribute saliency transfer to the public agenda that differs from the linear first
and second level saliency transfer model. Adding to a limited number of published
studies on the third-level of agenda setting, Guos chapter provides an important
contribution to theory building in the field.
As the field of agenda setting research moves ahead, scholars must tackle some of
its key limitations. Trans chapter provides an important discussion of the suggested
causation (the transfer of issue salience from the media to the public agenda) based
on simple correlational tests. The authors call for time-series and experimental
design was well argued and supported by his review of existing literature. Missing
from the book (with the exception of Guos chapter) was an in-depth discussion of
the potential use of network analysis as a key method for agenda setting research
in a 2.0 media landscape.
Overall, Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World provides a fresh discussion of significant
research issues and opportunities that face modern agenda setting scholarship. This
book is recommended to graduate students who would like to explore the various
facets of agenda setting research and to mass communication scholars at large.

McCombs, M. (2005). A look at agenda-setting: Past, present and future. Journalism Studies,
6, 543557.
McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The agenda-setting function of mass media. Public
Opinion Quarterly, 36, 176187.