How political elites process information from the news : the cognitive mechanisms behind behavioral political agenda-setting effects
Faculty of Social Sciences. Political Sciences
Political communication. - London, 1992, currens
, p. 605-627
University of Antwerp
olitical agenda-setting studies have shown that political agendas are influenced by the media agenda. Researchers in the field of media and politics are now focusing on the mechanisms underlying this pattern. This article contributes to the literature by focusing not on aggregate, behavioral political attention for issues (e.g., parliamentary questions or legislation), but on Members of Parliaments (MP) individual, cognitive attention for specific news stories. Drawing upon a survey of Belgian MPs administered shortly after exposure to news stories, the study shows that MPs are highly selective in exploiting media cues. They pay more attention to both prominent and useful news stories, but a storys usefulness is more important for cognitive processes that are closely linked to MPs real behavior in parliament. In other words, aggregate political agenda-setting effects are a consequence of the way in which individual MPs process media information that matches their task-related needs.