Agenda Control in the 2008 CNN/YouTube Debates

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14 Scopus citations


This article examines the evolving dynamic between citizens, journalists, and politicians-what we call agenda control-using the CNN/YouTube presidential primary debates as a case. A systematic content analysis of questions asked and candidates' answers as compared with standard journalist-as-questioner debates hosted by MSNBC reveals that the dynamic between politicians, journalists, and citizens suggests that journalists do a better job of getting candidates to answer questions than do citizens in the YouTube video format, not by virtue of being journalists, but by virtue of asking the right form of question. Results also indicate that the CNN/YouTube debate questions from citizens failed to reflect the broad set of issues of interest to those who submitted questions, and instead included a disproportionate number of culture-war issues and campaign strategy questions. Findings suggest that journalists maintain the upper hand in agenda control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-546
Number of pages18
JournalCommunication Quarterly
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Debates
  • New Media
  • Political Communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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