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Rather than taking a traditional view of media influence flowing over a relatively passive audience, the contributors to this volume of essays treat political communication as an interactive process of making meaning. Meaning refers to what one intends to convey especially through language, as well as to what is actually conveyed and reflects the processes of message creation and interpretation. People communicate and interpret messages and meanings in the context of current and prior information according to the authors.
The first part of the book focuses on the construction of political messages in the media and considers the roles played by the press, the president, political consultants, and campaign staffs. In the second part of the book, the authors look at individuals and how they construct political meanings from available messages.
Contributors to the volume include Dean E. Alger, W. Lance Bennett, Timothy E. Cook, Ann Crigler, Michael X. Delli Carpini, Robert M. Entman, William A. Gamson, Doris A. Graber, August E. Grant, Roderick Hart, Marion Just, John Llewellyn, W. Russell Neuman, Richard M. Perloff, Deborah Smith-Howell, and Bruce A. Williams.