Crusading journalism: Changing public attitudes and policy-making agendas

Donna R. Leff, David L. Protess, Stephen C. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


This is the third in a series of studies on the agenda-setting effects of news media investigations of social issues. Researchers had access to a local five-part television investigation of repeatedly brutal police officers before it was broadcast in the February 1983 sweeps period. Using random-digit-dialing to select a sample of Chicago area viewers, researchers surveyed 428 members of the general public on their attitudes toward various social issues, including the conduct of city police officers. We hypothesized that respondents exposed to the series would change their responses to questions about police brutality, which they did in statistically significant numbers. A similar survey of so-called elites, policy makers or persons with a prior interest in police behavior, also was undertaken before and repeated after the series was broadcast. Although no statistically significant change in elite opinions of police behavior occurred, small but statistically significant changes in knowledge of specific police acts were recorded. Researchers discuss the findings of study three and speculate about the different agenda-setting effects of the three series.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-315
Number of pages16
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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