Intermedia Agenda-Setting in a Policy Reform Debate

Linda van den Heijkant, Martine van Selm, Iina Hellsten, Rens Vliegenthart


This study investigates intermedia agenda-setting dynamics between traditional news media and social media in a policy reform debate. Whereas the role of traditional news media in public debates is generally acknowledged, the growth of social media raises questions about its potential power to set the agenda. This study contributes to the intermedia agenda-setting literature by extending the theory to the social media context, aiming to unravel causal relationships between traditional and social media. We use an automated content analysis to examine traditional and social media coverage between 2009 and 2016 of the Dutch policy reform to raise the retirement age. Results of pooled fixed effects time series models show support for a mutual influence between the traditional and social media agendas. By looking at the effects per subissue, monthly level vector autoregression models provide more empirical support for the influence of traditional news media on social media than for the reverse.


intermedia agenda setting, automated content analysis, time series analysis, traditional news media, social media, policy reform

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