Differentiating Cueing From Reasoning in Agenda-Setting Effects


Corresponding author: Raymond J. Pingree; e-mail: pingree@gmail.com


This study differentiates two explanations of agenda-setting effects: agenda cueing (the influence of the mere fact of news coverage) and agenda reasoning (the influence of reasons for problem importance in the content of news stories). We isolate the two using a report summarizing recent news coverage as the experimental stimulus, instead of actual news coverage, allowing independent manipulation of agenda cue exposure and agenda reason exposure. A key moderator in both processes is gatekeeping trust, or trust in the media to base coverage decisions on problem importance judgments. Specifically, pure cues (without agenda reasons) are more influential on those with higher gatekeeping trust, and among those with low gatekeeping trust, cues are more influential when backed by agenda reasons.