News Values and Information Subsidies: How Organizations Build the Agenda on Social and Traditional Media

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Virginia Tech


Information subsidies have been used for decades by organizations seeking media coverage. However, over the last decade, organizations are increasingly seeking to earn greater coverage by moving beyond traditional media and attempting to generate social media "buzz" about topics of significance. Agenda building theory has been used by a variety of scholars as a way to understand how sources influence, or build, the media's agenda. Since the media agenda influences the public agenda, influencing the media agenda is important for sources. Existing research and literature has successfully linked the use of information subsidies with agenda building. A separate body of research has established that there is a set of news values that make a story newsworthy. This study attempts to link these bodies of research on agenda building and news values by examining how the presence of news values in information subsidies affects subsequent media coverage. It also extends these concepts and theories beyond traditional media and into social media. Results indicate that agenda building theory also can apply to social media, but more research is needed to understand how organizations help build the agenda on traditional media. News values do affect coverage, but they affect social and traditional media differently. The specific values of conflict and magnitude correlate with greater traditional media coverage, while a higher number of news values overall in a release correlates with greater social media conversation. The presence of conflict also correlates with higher social media conversation. Implications for both public relations theory and practice are discussed.



news values, information subsidies, agenda building, social media