Share this

The People’s News: Media, Politics, and the Demands of Capitalism, Joseph E. Uscinski

Reviewed by Michael L. Barthel



The basic assumption of media effects research is that the nature of the news causes changes in the audience. But what about the opposite possibility—that the audience changes the news? To test the possibility that the news might be pandering to the audience rather than telling them what to think, Joseph E. Uscinski combines survey data showing which issues the public thinks are most important at a given time with a thorough content analysis of what types of issues were covered at the start of each night’s network news broadcast. Which comes first? Uscinski’s analysis finds some evidence for the well-­established phenomenon of agenda setting: for four issue areas, increased news coverage precedes the public belief that those issues are more important. But the more common effect that he finds is “audience-driven” coverage, with increased belief that an issue is important driving greater news coverage of that issue in seven areas. The audience would indeed seem to change the news.

Is this good or bad? The news media could be pandering to audience demands, chasing bigger audiences and more advertising dollars. Alternative­ly, journalists could be responsively attending to public demands that greater attention be paid to certain vital but underreported areas of civic life. To see whether news firms are being democratically resp

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor


Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.


Book Talk | Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive
May 24, 2022


Editor’s spotlight

Women's History Month

Woodrow Wilson, Alice Paul, and the Woman Suffrage Movement
Sally Hunter Graham

The Year of the Woman? Candidates, Voters, and the 1992 Elections
Ester R. Fuchs and Michael X. Delli Carpini


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS