Memo to politicians who relish slick sound bites: News coverage of “Washington politicians and their rhetoric “ has waning influence on the American public, says a study by Michigan State University, just published in Public Opinion Quarterly.
“Instead, citizens are more apt to be swayed by news stories about grass-roots protests and local events,” says Corwin Smidt, an assistant professor of political science who compared the impact of Washington debate and activism on public opinion polls.
“What this says is that maybe politicians can’t use the bully pulpit to influence public opinion through the news media as much as many people thought they could,” Mr. Smidt continues. “The news media are still the gatekeepers . . . but everything they cover does not have the same effect. It actually may be the storyline within the news that provokes opinion.”