The Public's Role In Framing The Agenda In The Digital Age




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title




The rapid growth of the Internet has transformed the business of journalism by allowing the public many new ways to participate in the news process. This thesis focuses on the public's participation in online news forums to assess how consumers' responses to news stories affect agenda setting. It centers on framing and agenda setting theories and employs quantitative methods to analyze the responses. The study relied on a content analysis of online postings tied to 50 different stories posted on The Lede, a news blog of The New York Times that can be found on the paper's website. The stories were equally divided among five categories: business, politics, sports, education and religion. The finding show that more than half of online respondents offer a new frame within their responses that is different than that of the professional journalist. There is also evidence of a significant difference between the amounts of new frames offered among the five categories. In addition, the overall findings show that a minority of respondents offered personal information or personal revelations about their own experiences in their online responses. Still, the results show there was also a significant difference in the amounts of personal revelations introduced among the five categories. The results of this study show that the public is clearly contributing new material and perspectives in online news forums. The results raise questions about whether professionals are the only ones who play a guiding role in agenda setting. To advance scholarship on this critical question, this thesis concludes with several suggestions for further research.