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Still an Agenda Setter: Traditional News Media and Public Opinion During the Transition From Low to High Choice Media Environments


Journal of Communication

Published online on


This study analyzes whether the agenda‐setting influence of traditional news media has become weaker over time—a key argument in the “new era of minimal effects” controversy. Based on media content and public opinion data collected in Sweden over a period of 23 years (1992–2014), we analyze both aggregate and individual‐level agenda‐setting effects on public opinion concerning 12 different political issues. Taken together, we find very little evidence that the traditional news media has become less influential as agenda setters. Rather, citizens appear as responsive to issue signals from the collective media agenda today as during the low‐choice era. We discuss these findings in terms of cross‐national differences in media systems and opportunity structures for selective exposure.