Pizza & Politics series features Don Shaw, pioneer of agenda-setting theory

By Janel Shoun on 1/24/2011

  
  

 

With today’s airwaves full of critical discussion of negative political communication and public sentiment, Lipscomb University will host a pioneer of communication theory who has shaped what we know about the news media’s effects on public perception of our leaders and the important issues in society.
 
Lipscomb’s Pizza & Politics series presents a lecture by Donald Shaw, one of the scholars who first introduced the agenda-setting theory into the realm of political and mass communication studies over 40 years ago, on Thursday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Shamblin Theatre. This event is free and open to the public.

Agenda-setting is a theory about the influence of the news media on society. Through their day-by-day selection of news stories and topics, editors and news directors focus audience attention, thus influencing their perceptions of what are the most important issues of the day.
 
Shaw speech is titled “Gathering and Scattering Public Community: Media Agendas and Framing of Civic Responsibilities.”
 
Shaw is a journalism researcher, historian and theorist who has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication since 1966.
 
Since the original Chapel Hill study with his colleague Maxwell McCombs coined the term "agenda setting" in 1968, more than 400 studies of the theory have been conducted worldwide. In the continuing evolution of political communication, British scholars Jay G. Blumler and Dennis Kavanagh have commented, “Among the field's master paradigms, agenda setting may be most worth pursuing.”
 
As a scholar Shaw is best known for his work with McCombs about the agenda-setting function of the press and for his studies of 19th and 20th century American and Southern press history.
 
Pizza & Politics is sponsored by the departments of history, politics and philosophy, and communication and journalism, both in the College of Arts and Science; and the Office of the Provost.