Washington, Oct 15 : While celebrities have the power to effectively endorse charitable and political causes, but when it comes to making news to shape policy agendas, researchers found that their ideas have been practically oversold.
Led by A. Trevor Thrall, University of Michigan Assistant Professor of Political Science, and colleagues, the study looked at hundreds of celebrities, grouped in different ways, along with the issues they advocate. The researchers then measured the celebrity impact via the news stories that were published in both hard news and entertainment news sources. While 62.8 percent of the celebrities in the random sample were engaged in celebrity advocacy, still, conventional wisdom was found to have an upper hand in moving the news machine to shape policy agendas - especially in hard news.
But, it was found that combined star power helped the charities get more attention than those that work with fewer celebrities. Other conclusions of the research includes the fact that celebrities make brief and irregular appearances in the hard news but still fail to move political debate.
The researchers found that star advocacy does help in mobilizing and building social movement infrastructure
"As a result of the media's fragmentation, very few issues or people command the public's attention for long," wrote the authors.
They added: "Our study suggests that citizens increasingly act as their own gatekeepers, often relying on Web sites and search engines with no link to the journalistic tradition. Groups will find celebrities and entertainment media increasingly important as mechanisms for targeting and attracting audiences for their messages."
The study is published in the International Journal of Press/Politics.