Newspaper coverage and public opinion in hong kong: A time‐series analysis of media priming

Lars Willnat, Jian‐Hua H. Zhu, Jian‐Hua H. Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Based on the psychological model of media priming, we examine the potentially strong link between news content and public opinion about Governor Patten's democratization plan for Hong Kong. Similar to previous priming studies, we hypothesized that an increase in the amount of media coverage of Patten's political reform plan would cause the public to assign more weight to the issue when evaluating the governor's overall performance. To validate the priming hypothesis in a nonexperimental setting, this study uses time‐series data obtained from 52 weekly public opinion polls, coupled with content analysis of three leading newspapers in Hong Kong between October 1992 and October 1993. The findings provide strong evidence supporting the media priming theory on an aggregate data level. Newspaper coverage of Patten's reform plan greatly inflated the relative importance of his proposal in the public's evaluation of his overall performance, with a 1‐week delay. The priming hypothesis survived a stringent test of several rival factors, including autocorrelation, the influence of the economy, and other important real‐world events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-246
Number of pages16
JournalPolitical Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Candidate images
  • Hong Kong
  • Media priming
  • Polls
  • Public opinion
  • Time‐series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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