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Agenda Setting of News Media: An RCT on News Consumption
Last registered on December 17, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Agenda Setting of News Media: An RCT on News Consumption
Initial registration date
April 01, 2018
Last updated
December 17, 2018 8:13 AM EST
Primary Investigator
Northeastern University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
The mass media are considered to be one of the most important agenda setters in this society. They steer the attention of the public toward certain political issues using repetition, emphasis, and ordering of the articles. How much of the article selections of the news consumers is driven by pure “salience,” and how much is via more conscious process such as issue delegation (media guide the news consumers)? How much of the selection is driven by the subjective issue importance of the news consumers prior to seeing the media emphasis of the issues? Do media's issue “salience” and “guidance” affect the subjective importance of the issues, opinions on policy issues, and eventually the support for the political parties? Through an Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) experiment in the US, this paper aims to answer these questions in a systematic and coherent way.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Jo, Donghee. 2018. "Agenda Setting of News Media: An RCT on News Consumption." AEA RCT Registry. December 17. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2852-2.0.
Former Citation
Jo, Donghee. 2018. "Agenda Setting of News Media: An RCT on News Consumption." AEA RCT Registry. December 17. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2852/history/39025.
Experimental Details
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Issue selection in the article selection screen; subjective importance of five issues; position on each issue and the confidence on the belief

We will also explore the heterogeneity of outcomes in (i) partisanship, (ii) baseline numeracy score (scores from four numeracy questions), and (iii) baseline measure of how much the subject is prone to selection neglect (Enke, 2018).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Party support (subject’s instruction to donate 50 cents to different organizations); 2018 voting expectation; media rank preference; sentiment toward other party members (select all that apply); whether the subject is going to be happy to have a child married to an other-party supporter
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Main randomization: providing differently ordered list of articles, where the articles are randomly shuffled for randomly selected subset of the subjects.
Experimental Design Details
There will be four equally sized groups. Group 1: The subjects in this group will see a list of five article titles (covering five political issues), all from one randomly selected news source. The order of the titles will follow the typical order that the selected news source follows. The first article title will also be accompanied by a photo in the article. The subjects will be notified that these are titles from the selected news source. The subjects will be asked to select an article in the list to read. Group 2: This group differs from Group 1 only in that they will get a list of article titles that are randomly shuffled. The subjects are not going to be informed about this random shuffling. See Section IV.8 for the discussion about not informing the subjects about random shuffling. Group 3: This group differs from Group 2 only in that they will be notified that the article titles are randomly shuffled. Group 4: The subjects in this group will not have the choice to select the article to read. They get a randomly selected article from a randomly selected source. There will be two independent cross-randomizations. 1. The source of the news articles will be randomly selected for the first and the second day. The two sources can differ. 2. The subjects will be asked to predict the position of the news source on a particular issue prior to reading an article with 50% probability. This is an intervention that can potentially mitigate the effect of selective exposure by reminding people that the article is coming from a selected source, not a random source and therefore it can be biased.
Randomization Method
Randomization in office using Stata
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
600 Individuals
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
150 individuals for each treatment group (there is no control group per se, although one of the groups resembles the real-world article ordering and therefore can be considered as quasi-control group)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
MIT Committee On the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects (COUHES)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)