From headline to lifeline: does news set agenda for policy?

Jenna Grzeslo, Yang Bai, Ryan Yang Wang, Bumgi Min, Krishna Prasad Jayakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This paper is an investigation of the volume, nature and tone of news media coverage of the federal Lifeline Program from its inception to 2018. It aims to examine whether news media coverage is correlated with significant episodes of reform in the program. Design/methodology/approach: Using the ProQuest Major Dailies database, articles covering the “Lifeline Program” were analyzed. Specifically, a quantitative codebook was developed, based on the literature, and four coders were trained to systematically analyze the 124 articles that discussed the program between 1985 and 2018. Findings: The findings suggest that reforms in the program were preceded by significantly higher volumes of media coverage; however, the analysis is unable to confirm that negative media coverage has a stronger agenda setting effect. In addition, no significant difference was found between positive and negative news stories in their use of research-based information. Originality/value: This study is interdisciplinary in its ability to combine policy and journalism studies as a mechanism to understand the relationship between the two forces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-368
Number of pages17
JournalDigital Policy, Regulation and Governance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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