Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2452-0063
  • E-ISSN: 2452-0071
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper analyzes the role of social media in electoral processes and contemporary political life. We analyze Costa Rica’s 2018 presidential election from an agenda-setting perspective, studying the media, the political and the public agendas, and their relationships. We explore whether social media, Facebook specifically, can convey an agenda-setting effect; if social media public agenda differs from the traditional MIP public agenda; and what agenda-setting methodologies can benefit from new approaches in the social media context. The study revealed that social media agendas are complex and dynamic and, in this case, did not present an agenda-setting effect. We not only found that the social media public agenda does not correlate with the conventional MIP public agenda, but that neither does the media online agenda and the media’s agenda on Facebook. Our exploration of more contemporary methods like big data, social network analysis (SNA), and social media mining point to them as necessary complements to the traditional methodological proposal of agenda-setting theory which have become insufficient to explain the current media environment.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Althaus, S. L., & Tewksbury, D.
    (2002) Agenda setting and the “new” news: Patterns of issue importance among readers of the paper and online versions of the New York Times. Communication Research, 29(2), 180–207. 10.1177/0093650202029002004
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650202029002004 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bennett, W. L., & Iyengar, S.
    (2008) A New Era of Minimal Effects? The Changing Foundations of Political Communication. Journal of Communication, 58(4), 707–731. doi:  10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2008.00410.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2008.00410.x [Google Scholar]
  3. Boczkowski, P. J., & Mitchelstein, E.
    (2015) La brecha de las noticias: La divergencia entre las preferencias informativas de los medios y el público. Argentina: Ediciones Manantial.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Castells, M.
    (1999) La era de la información. Vol. 1: La sociedad red. México: Siglo XXI Editores.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Cheng, Y.
    (2016) The third-level agenda-setting study: an examination of media, implicit, and explicit public agendas in China. Asian Journal of Communication, 26(4), 319–332. 10.1080/01292986.2015.1130159
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01292986.2015.1130159 [Google Scholar]
  6. Cheng, Y., & Chan, C. M.
    (2015) The third level of agenda setting in contemporary China: Tracking descriptions of moral and national education (MNE) in media coverage and people’s minds. International Journal of Communication, 9, 18.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Conway, M., & Patterson, J. R.
    (2008) Today’s Top Story? An Agenda-Setting and Recall Experiment Involving Television and Internet News. Southwestern Mass Communication Journal, 24(1).
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Del Fresno-García, M., Daly, A. J., & Sánchez-Cabezudo, S. S.
    (2016) Identifying the new influencers in the Internet Era: social media and social network analysis. Revista Española de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 153(1), 23–40.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Freelon, D.
    (2015, April). Agenda-setting in the one-step flow: Evidence from Facebook in the 2012 election. InWorkshop on Social Media and the Prospects for Expanded Democratic (pp.1–24). https://sites.bu.edu/cmcs/files/2015/03/Agenda-setting-in-the-one-step-flow.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Groshek, J.
    (2008) Homogenous Agendas, Disparate Frames: CNN and CNN International Coverage Online. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 52(1), 52–68. doi:  10.1080/08838150701820809
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08838150701820809 [Google Scholar]
  11. Groshek, J., & Clough-Groshek, M. C.
    (2013) Agenda trending: Reciprocity and the predictive capacity of social networking sites in intermedia agenda setting across topics over time. Media and Communication, 1(1), 15. doi:  10.12924/mac2013.01010015
    https://doi.org/10.12924/mac2013.01010015 [Google Scholar]
  12. Guo, L.
    (2012) The application of social network analysis in agenda setting research: A methodological exploration. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56(4), 616–631. 10.1080/08838151.2012.732148
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08838151.2012.732148 [Google Scholar]
  13. Guo, L., & McCombs, M.
    (2011, May). Network agenda setting: A third level of media effects. Inannual conference of the International Communication Association, Boston, MA.
  14. (2011, August). Toward the third level of agenda setting theory: A network agenda setting model. Inannual convention of the Association for Education in Journalism & Mass Communication. St. Louis, Missouri.
  15. Guo, L., & Vargo, C.
    (2015) The power of message networks: A big-data analysis of the network agenda setting model and issue ownership. Mass Communication and Society, 18(5), 557–576. doi:  10.1080/15205436.2015.1045300
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2015.1045300 [Google Scholar]
  16. Langer, A. I., & Gruber, J. B.
    (2020) Political Agenda Setting in the Hybrid Media System: Why Legacy Media Still Matter a Great Deal. The International Journal of Press/Politics, 1940161220925023. 10.1177/1940161220925023
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1940161220925023 [Google Scholar]
  17. Martin, J.
    (2014) Agenda Setting, Elections, and the Impact of Information Technology. Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World. New Agendas in Communication. Johnson, T. (ed), 28–52.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Martin, S., Brown, W. M., Klavans, R., & Boyack, K. W.
    (2011) OpenOrd: an open-source toolbox for large graph layout. Visualization and Data Analysis 2011 (Vol.7868, p.786806). International Society for Optics and Photonics. 10.1117/12.871402
    https://doi.org/10.1117/12.871402 [Google Scholar]
  19. McCombs, M., & Reynolds, A.
    (2009) How the News Shapes Our Civic Agenda. Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research. (3 ed.), Bryant, J. & Oliver, M. B. (ed.), 1–16. New York, NY: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. McCombs, M., & Shaw, D. L.
    (1972) The agenda-setting function of mass media. Public opinion quarterly, 36(2), 176–187. 10.1086/267990
    https://doi.org/10.1086/267990 [Google Scholar]
  21. McCombs, M., Shaw, D. L., & Weaver, D. H.
    (2014) New Directions in Agenda-Setting Theory and Research. Mass Communication and Society, 17(6), 781–802. doi:  10.1080/15205436.2014.964871
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2014.964871 [Google Scholar]
  22. Mellon, J.
    (2011) Search Indices and Issue Salience: the properties of Google Trends as a measure of Issue Salience. Sociology Working Papers, 1.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Monge, P. R., & Contractor, N.
    (2003) Theories of Communication Networks. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/oso/9780195160369.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780195160369.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  24. Neuman, R. W., Guggenheim, L., Mo Jang, S., & Bae, S. Y.
    (2014) The dynamics of public attention: Agenda-setting theory meets big data. Journal of Communication, 64(2), 193–214. 10.1111/jcom.12088
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12088 [Google Scholar]
  25. Newman, M.
    (2010) Networks. An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206650.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199206650.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  26. Santander, P., Elórtegui, C., González, C., Allende-Cid, H. & Palma, W.
    (2017) Redes sociales, inteligencia computacional y predicción electoral: el caso de las primarias presidenciales de Chile 2017. Cuadernos.info, (41), 41–56. doi:  10.7764/cdi.41.1218
    https://doi.org/10.7764/cdi.41.1218 [Google Scholar]
  27. Sayre, B., Bode, L., Shah, D., Wilcox, D., & Shah, C.
    (2010) Agenda Setting in a Digital Age: Tracking Attention to California Proposition 8 in Social Media, Online News and Conventional News. Policy & Internet, 2(2), 7–32. doi:  10.2202/1944‑2866.1040
    https://doi.org/10.2202/1944-2866.1040 [Google Scholar]
  28. Scharkow, M., & Vogelgesang, J.
    (2011) Measuring the Public Agenda using Search Engine Queries. International Journal of Public Opinion Research, 23(1), 104–113. doi:  10.1093/ijpor/edq048
    https://doi.org/10.1093/ijpor/edq048 [Google Scholar]
  29. Stier, S., Bleier, A., Lietz, H., & Strohmaier, M.
    (2018) Election Campaigning on Social Media: Politicians, Audiences, and the Mediation of Political Communication on Facebook and Twitter. Political Communication, 35(1), 50–74. doi:  10.1080/10584609.2017.1334728
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584609.2017.1334728 [Google Scholar]
  30. Tewksbury, D.
    (2005) The seeds of audience fragmentation: Specialization in the use of online news sites. Journal of broadcasting & electronic media, 49(3), 332–348. 10.1207/s15506878jobem4903_5
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15506878jobem4903_5 [Google Scholar]
  31. Tran, H.
    (2014) Online agenda setting: A new frontier for theory development. Agenda Setting in a 2.0 World. New Agendas in Communication. Johnson, T. (ed), 205–229.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Vargo, C. J.
    (2018) Fifty years of agenda-setting research: New directions and challenges for the theory. The Agenda Setting Journal, 2(2), 105–123. https://chrisjvargo.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Vargo-C.-2018.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Vargo, C. J., & Guo, L.
    (2017) Networks, big data, and intermedia agenda setting: An analysis of traditional, partisan, and emerging online US news. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94(4), 1031–1055. 10.1177/1077699016679976
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699016679976 [Google Scholar]
  34. Vargo, C. J., Guo, L., McCombs, M., & Shaw, D. L.
    (2014) Network issue agendas on Twitter during the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Journal of Communication, 64, 296–316. 10.1111/jcom.12089
    https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12089 [Google Scholar]
  35. Vu, H. T., Guo, L., & McCombs, M.
    (2014) Exploring “the world outside and the pictures in our heads” A network agenda-setting study. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 91(4), 669–686. 10.1177/1077699014550090
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699014550090 [Google Scholar]
  36. Wu, H. D., & Guo, L.
    (2020) Beyond salience transmission: Linking agenda networks between media and voters. Communication Research, 47(7), 1010–1033. 10.1177/0093650217697765
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650217697765 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): agenda Setting; elections; Facebook; Latin America; social media; social network analysis
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error