Mass Media as a Source of Public Responsiveness

Fabian G. Neuner, Stuart N. Soroka, Christopher Wlezien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


A sizable literature finds evidence of public responsiveness to policy change, across a range of salient policy domains and countries. We have a very limited sense for what drives this aggregate-level responsiveness, however. One possibility is that individuals learn at least part of what they need to know from mass media. Work tends to emphasize failures in both media coverage and citizens, but little research explores the prevalence of relevant, accurate information in media content, or citizens’ abilities to identify and respond to that information. Using the case of defense spending in the United States, we examine both, through an automated content analysis of thirty-five years of reporting, validated by a coding exercise fielded to survey respondents. Results prompt analyses of the American National Election Study (ANES), tracing both individual-level perceptions of and preferences for defense spending change over time. These results, supplemented by aggregate analyses of the General Social Survey (GSS), illustrate how media might facilitate—but also confuse—public responsiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-292
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • mass media
  • negative feedback
  • public opinion
  • public policy
  • thermostatic responsiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Mass Media as a Source of Public Responsiveness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this