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Reflecting on Edward Snowden’s whistle-blowing revelations regarding indiscriminate online and telephone surveillance and social media manipulation by signals intelligence agencies, especially in the United States and the United Kingdom, this article highlights the hitherto limited nature of public knowledge of, and internationally uneven concern regarding, intelligence agencies’ contemporary techniques of communications surveillance and manipulative agenda building. While noting that the interdisciplinary field of intelligence studies has started to theorize intelligence agencies’ agenda-building activities, also observable is a remarkable lacuna from the discipline of Journalism, Media, and Communications. A systematic review of all research articles (up until December 2014) from the archives of sixteen journals in the discipline of Journalism, Media, and Communications confirms this lack of attention. Only 0.1 percent of the discipline’s articles are centrally on the field of the press, intelligence agencies, and agenda-building processes, even when these are broadly defined. Patterns within this tiny field are delineated, comprising intelligence agencies’ techniques of, and success in, manipulating different agenda-building nodes involving the press, journalists’ practices and challenges in dealing with intelligence, the public’s role in press-related agenda building on intelligence issues, and methodological patterns and issues in examining this field. The systematic review contextualizes and situates the six research articles comprising this Special Issue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-144
JournalInternational Journal of Press/politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2015

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