Rethinking Public Agenda in a Time of High-Choice Media Environment

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Rethinking Public Agenda in a Time of High-Choice Media Environment

  • Sara Bentivegna Department of Social Sciences and Economics, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
  • Giovanni Boccia Artieri Department of Communication Sciences, Humanities and International Studies, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy

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Abstract:  Contemporary political communication is conditioned by an information environment characterised, on the one hand, by increased choice, and on the other by the fragmentation and multiplication of the ways of consuming information. This article introduces the notion of the ‘interrelated public agenda’ as a frame to study this context, taking into account elements of convergence and divergence from a single viewpoint, adopting a complex analysis model which proceeds along axes which make it possible to detect a continuum in which opposing forces are in a constant, problematic equilibrium. In this sense, we identified three dimensions which are helpful in describing public agenda interrelations. First, horizontality vs verticality, which contains the dynamics of power, and is generated in a context of political disintermediation, through the altered nature of the media system—in the complex relation between legacy media and web 2.0, and between social, institutional actors, and others. Second, personal vs aggregative, which stresses the need to take account of convergences and divergences between personal orientation towards certain issues and the aggregative pressure in different media spaces in which people feel at home: from information consumption via media diets of varying complexity to active participation in the production of content or in public discourse, offline and online. And finally, dynamic vs static, which points to the need to orient analysis towards the relation between media spaces rather than focusing on specific spaces, thus helping, importantly, to make up for the current dearth of research in comparison with studies of single platforms.

Keywords:  legacy media; media environment; political communication; public agenda; public sphere; social media

Published:   8 October 2020


© Sara Bentivegna, Giovanni Boccia Artieri. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.