Issue competition and attention distraction : A zero-sum theory of agenda-setting

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-836
Journal / PublicationJournalism & Mass Communication Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1992
Externally publishedYes


Classic agenda-setting studies implied a zero-sum process, in which issues compete for media and public attention. Recent time series analyses on single issues have disregarded this central assumption. Evidence from a variety of sources was cited to illustrate that agenda-setting is a zero-sum game, due to the limited carrying capacity of the public agenda. A mathematical model was proposed to incorporate the strengths of both the classic approach and the time series technique. The model was tested with data on three recent issues. Results reveal both mutual competition and one-way attraction among issues. © 1992, Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication. All rights reserved.