Common Knowledge: News and the Construction of Political Meaning

W. Russell Neuman, Author, Marion R. Just, With, Ann N. Crigler, With University of Chicago Press $29.95 (190p) ISBN 978-0-226-57439-4
In this ponderous but informative study, the authors argue that experts who see the public as a passive audience for the media or as uninformed voters ignore the complex ways in which people think about public issues. The authors conducted interviews and surveys regarding five current issues--including drug abuse and the 1987 stock market crash--to determine how people analyze information from newspapers, news magazines and television news programs. From these they conclude that people invoke morality more often than the media do. They found, contrary to accepted wisdom, that television is not the cause of public ignorance; rather, people who have ``lower cognitive skills'' are more likely to seek news from television. What people learn from the media, the authors suggest, depends on the their skills and education. They conclude that the media should present ``less salient'' topics with greater creativity but focus more on providing context and the hard news angle for provocative topics such as the AIDS crisis. Neuman teaches communications at Tufts; Just and Crigler are political scientists at Wellesley and USC, respectively. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-0-226-57440-0
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