The mass media, public opinion, and lesbian and gay rights

Daniel Chomsky, Scott Barclay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Democratic theorists assume that government policy responds to public opinion. But public opinion may be influenced by other political actors through the mass media instead. Scholars agree that the news media have become more attentive to and supportive of lesbian and gay rights over time, and they identify several factors as explanations for the change. While events, the gay rights movement, official statements, and government action may have had an effect, coverage was contingent on the decisions of news institutions and media owners to devote attention to them. There have been few studies on the media's impact, but decisions to cover the gay rights movement appear to have moved public opinion. Despite setbacks, continued debate over gay rights is likely to generate favorable media attention and lead to increased public support for lesbian and gay rights over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-403
Number of pages17
JournalAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Agenda setting
  • Mass media
  • Same-sex marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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