Agenda Setting and the Blogosphere: An Analysis of the Relationship between Mainstream Media and Political Blogs

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Abstract

This paper asks: what is the relationship between the mainstream media and blog agendas? To be more precise, this paper tracks media coverage and blog discussion of 35 issues during the 2004 presidential campaign to test the hypothesis that the mainstream media agenda exerts a substantial impact on the blog agenda against the increasingly popular hypothesis that the blog agenda exerts a strong influence on the mainstream media agenda. Using a computer-assisted, quantitative content analysis of ten randomly selected A-list political blogs and 50 randomly selected, less popular political blogs over the five-month period from July 1 to November 30, 2004, the author finds that on the vast majority of issues there was a complex, bidirectional relationship between mainstream media coverage and blog discussion rather than a unidirectional media or blog agenda-setting effect.

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