How to Evaluate It: The Role of Story-Evaluative Tone in Agenda Setting and Priming.


The main contribution of this study to the understanding of agenda-setting and priming effects is its focus on the role of evaluative tone in all stages of the agenda setting/priming process. First, the public's evaluation of issue importance, which is the dependent variable in most agenda-setting studies, is influenced by the issue saliency in the news and by the evaluative tone of media coverage (positive, negative, or neutral). This evaluative tone or affective attribute attached to the issue is part of the second-level agenda setting. Second, these affective attributes that people attach to issues further play an important role in the process of priming, on which they have both indirect and direct impacts. Priming, therefore, carries with it an affective component: It is a combination of message strength and direction. Third, the political judgments of individuals are also directly influenced by media-affective attributes. All of the arguments are supported by the empirical analys