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International Coverage, Foreign Policy, and National Image: Exploring the Complexities of Media Coverage, Public Opinion, and Presidential Agenda
Unformatted Document Text:  EXPLORING THE COMPLEXITIES 8 on the public and its ability to shape public policy by calling the public’s attention to certain issues that are considered more important (McCombs, 2005). These issues in turn, become relevant to policymakers when they have captured the attention of the public or the mass media. Although this process appears straightforward, studies examining the relationship between the media and policy agendas have found contrasting results (Walgrave & Aelst, 2006). Over the years many studies have found that the media has been successful in influencing policy agenda on various topics including AIDS (Rogers, Dearing, & Chang, 1991); education (Brewer & McCombs, 1996); and drunk driving (Yanovitsky, 2001). However, on other issues, such as transportation, an increase in media attention has not always lead to policy change (Kingdon, 2003; Stone, 1989). The presidential agenda has received an often-infrequent examination by agenda- setting scholars. For decades public opinion research has recognized the importance of the president in setting policy agenda (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993; Huntington, 1965; Kingdon, 2003). The White House expends a great deal of capital in attempting to direct the media’s attention on relevant issues (Edwards & Wayne, 1999). This energy is directed towards engineering an array of briefings, press releases, interviews, and conferences in order to establish a unified voice for both the administration and the president. It should be no surprise then that scholars have cited the president as the number-one agenda setter in the U.S. (McCombs, 2005). Dearings and Rogers (1996) even stated “The U.S. president can put an issue on the national agenda just by giving a talk about it” (Dearing & Rogers, 1996, p.75). Although, it is

Authors: Zhang, Cui.
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EXPLORING THE COMPLEXITIES
                                      8
on the public and its ability to shape public policy by calling the public’s attention to 
certain issues that are considered more important (McCombs, 2005). These issues in 
turn, become relevant to policymakers when they have captured the attention of the 
public or the mass media. Although this process appears straightforward, studies 
examining the relationship between the media and policy agendas have found 
contrasting results (Walgrave & Aelst, 2006). Over the years many studies have found 
that the media has been successful in influencing policy agenda on various topics 
including AIDS (Rogers, Dearing, & Chang, 1991); education (Brewer & McCombs, 
1996); and drunk driving (Yanovitsky, 2001). However, on other issues, such as 
transportation, an increase in media attention has not always lead to policy change 
(Kingdon, 2003; Stone, 1989). 
The presidential agenda has received an often-infrequent examination by agenda-
setting scholars. For decades public opinion research has recognized the importance 
of the president in setting policy agenda (Baumgartner & Jones, 1993; Huntington, 
1965; Kingdon, 2003). The White House expends a great deal of capital in attempting 
to direct the media’s attention on relevant issues (Edwards & Wayne, 1999). This 
energy is directed towards engineering an array of briefings, press releases, 
interviews, and conferences in order to establish a unified voice for both the 
administration and the president. It should be no surprise then that scholars have cited 
the president as the number-one agenda setter in the U.S. (McCombs, 2005). Dearings 
and Rogers (1996) even stated “The U.S. president can put an issue on the national 
agenda just by giving a talk about it” (Dearing & Rogers, 1996, p.75). Although, it is 


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