It is widely held in the social science community that the news media have little influence on public opinion. In this paper, it is argued that this counterintuitive belief is based on weak theories derived from studies with faulty methodologies. A theory of variable news media influence is presented, which states that the less obtrusive an issue is, and the less time the issue has been prominent in the media, the greater is the news media’s influence on opinion about that issue. Data is presented which demonstrate that network television news has influenced national public opinion about certain issues in a pattern consistent with the theory.
Gene Zucker, H. (1978). The variable nature of news media influence. Annals of the International Communication Association, 2(1), 225-240.https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/23808985.1978.11923728