Public Affairs and Agenda Setting:

Passive On-Lookers or Active Participants?

     A content analysis of military related articles using Berelson’s (1952) concept that content analysis is a research technique for the objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication will determine military public affairs success or failure with influencing media agenda-setting. Funkhouser’s (1973) methodology described earlier will be used to investigate the correlation between public opinion of the military and media content. The independent variable is military public affairs communications campaigns and the dependent variable is media agenda-setting.  

     A content analysis study can be conducted of six major newspapers: USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times for each year of the 1990s focusing on the major issues facing the military. The major issues are defined as those salient issues military public affairs deemed were important. For purposes of measurement, this could further be defined as those topics the military thought important enough to distribute public affairs guidance (PAG). Public affairs guidance themes, messages and questions and answers can be correlated to the news stories using Kaid and Wadsworth’s (1989) seven-step process. Media salience can be determined by the articles placement in the newspaper. Stone & McCombs’ (1981) lag-time study methods can be incorporated in the study to avoid Funkhouser’s (1973) causal direction dilemma.  

D E P A R T M E N T    OF    D E F E N S E    S H O R T    C O U R S E   IN   C O M M U N I C A T I O N 
Contact Webmaster at


Public Affairs Perspective
Literature Review
Theory & Hypotheses
Case Studies & H-2