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