Gruszczynski article explores causes of agenda fragmentation
Agenda fragmentation and congruence are results of the varied preferences of media audiences, according to a study published in the International Journal of Communication by assistant professor Mike Gruszczynski.
Agenda fragmentation, when issues covered by media sources differ, occurs because if people are unable to find coverage of topics of concern to them from their preferred source, they will look elsewhere, Gruszczynski finds in “How Media Storms and Topic Diversity Influence Agenda Fragmentation.” This pattern incentivizes news sources to cover particular issues.
The issues that occupy the most media agenda space, including elections and disasters, typically correlate between liberal, conservative and traditional broadcast sources, the study finds.
Gruszczynski’s work also focuses on “storm” coverage, the sudden and sustained increase in coverage of an issue. In the study, he suggests that this storm coverage drives other sources to cover similar topics. This follow-the-leader pattern only draws cable news sources to follow traditional broadcast sources and does not occur vice versa.