Redirecting the Focus of the Agenda: Testing the Zero-Sum Dynamics of Media Attention in News and User-Generated Media

S Mo Jang, Yong Jin Park


This study uses the attention-allocation approach to examine the dynamics of media attention. Based on the assumption that media attention is limited, we tested the notion of zero-sum issue competition wherein increasing attention to one agenda decreases attention to existing agendas. Analyzing comprehensive data sets of Twitter, blogs, and online news for a four-month period after the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea, this study finds displacing relationships between media attention to the Korean government and another target for blame: the ferry’s owner, Byung-eun Yu. This zero-sum principle prevailed regardless of the media’s political orientation, with mainstream and social media displaying similar patterns. Our follow-up time-series analysis hints at the intermedia influence from news coverage to Twitter posts.



zero-sum issue competition, intermedia agenda setting, Sewol ferry, big data

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