McCombs, Shaw, Wanta,
Weaver tape program here


An all-star group of researchers in the field of agenda-setting theory - Maxwell McCombs, Donald Shaw, Wayne Wanta and David Weaver - were special guests at Elon's School of Communications April 7. They traveled here to make their contributions to an educational DVD being put together by Associate Dean Brad Hamm and Assistant Professor Brooke Barnett. The eminent researchers also enjoyed a luncheon with Elon faculty members.

McCombs and Shaw are internationally recognized for their development of the agenda-setting role of mass communication.

Agenda setting deals with how news coverage of issues influences the public's perceptions of those issues. A simple description is: "The media don't tell you what to think, but they do tell you what to think about."

The initial agenda-setting study by McCombs and Shaw has been recognized as one of the milestones in 20th century mass communication and political science research, and countless politicians, journalists and public relations officers have been influenced by their work.

Since the original study by Shaw and McCombs in Chapel Hill, N.C., in 1968, about 400 agenda-setting studies have been published worldwide.

McCombs is now the Jesse H. Jones Centennial Chair in Communication at the University of Texas at Austin and is a professor on the associated faculty of Catholic University in Santiago, Chile. He is past president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research. Among his dozens of publications, McCombs is co-editor of "The Poll With a Human Face: The National Issues Convention Experiment in Political Communication" (1999) and "Communication and Democracy: Exploring the intellectual frontiers in Agenda Setting Research" (1997) and co-author of "Research in Mass Communication" (2000) and "Contemporary Public Opinion" (1991). He holds a doctorate and a master's degree from Stanford University, and completed his undergraduate studies at Tulane University. McCombs served for 10 years as director of the News Research Center of the American Newspaper Publishers Association. He also worked as a reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Shaw is a Kenan Chair in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina. He is a communication historian and theorist, journalism professor, retired U.S. Army Reserve officer and a writer. Educated as a journalist and historian, he has taught at UNC's School of Journalism and Mass Communication since 1966. He also has been visiting professor at five other universities and has lectured at more than 20 universities in the United States and abroad. As a scholar he is best known for his agenda-setting work with McCombs and for his studies of 19th and 20th century American and Southern press history. He is author or co-author of nine books and many scholarly articles and papers, several of which have been presented in other countries.

Wanta is a professor at the University of Missouri and a researcher in political communication and media effects, particularly agenda setting. He has published one scholarly book - "The Public and the National Agenda: How People Learn About Important Issues" - and seven book chapters and more than 40 journal articles. In 1995, he was awarded the Krieghbaum Under-40 award from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for "outstanding achievement in research, teaching and public service." Wanta holds a doctorate.and a master's degree from the University of Texas and completed his undergraduate work at the University of Wisconsin. He worked at the Dallas Times Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Albuquerque Journal, Charleston (S.C.) Post Courier and Wisconsin State Journal.

Weaver is the Roy W. Howard Professor in Journalism and Mass Communication Research at Indiana University. He was appointed in the spring of 2003 to a group of 40 pre-eminent scholars and journalists who will jointly write a scholarly volume on the press as part of a five-volume set on the institutions of democracy, a project sponsored by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Some of his books include "Mass Communication Research and Theory," "The Global Journalist," "The American Journalist," "Media Agenda-Setting in a Presidential Election" and "Contemporary Public Opinion." Weaver's doctorate is from the University of North Carolina and he has master's and A.B. degrees from Indiana University. He is past president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and worked as a newspaper reporter and editor.



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