An Actor-Based Measure of Issue Salience: Information Acquisition and the Case of the United States Supreme Court

Ryan C. Black, Amanda C. Bryan, and Timothy R. Johnson

Chapter published in 2011 in Issue Salience and Foreign Policy Analysis (Kai Oppermann and Henrike Viehrig, eds.) by Routledge Press.


Although media-based measures represent an advance beyond earlier measures of issue salience, they face significant drawbacks including the inability to be strictly contemporaneous and the tendency to introduce systematic bias into a variable’s measurement. In lieu of media-based measures, we argue that information acquisition is a useful indicator of issue salience. In applying our approach to cases before the U.S. Supreme Court we demonstrate how such a method can yield a meaningful and, more importantly, a valid measure of issue salience.

Download the chapter here.