Agenda Setting - Essay

Topics: News media, Mass media, Media studies Pages: 2 (549 words) Published: November 14, 2012
The Agenda Setting
Agenda-setting theory describes the "ability [of the news media] to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda." Essentially, the theory states that the more salient a news issue is - in terms of frequency and prominence of coverage - the more important news audiences will regard the issue to be. Agenda-setting theory was formally developed by Dr. Max McCombs and Dr. Donald Shaw in a study on the 1968 presidential election. In the 1968 "Chapel Hill study," McCombs and Shaw demonstrated a strong correlation between what 100 residents of Chapel Hill, North Carolina thought was the most important election issue and what the local and national news media reported was the most important issue. By comparing the salience of issues in news content with the public's perceptions of the most important election issue, McCombs and Shaw were able to determine the degree to which the media, in Bernard Cohen's words, "tell us [(the public)] what to think about.” Since the 1968 study, published in a 1972 edition of Public Opinion Quarterly, more than 400 studies have been published on the agenda-setting function of the mass media, and the theory continues to receive support even in today's fragmented media environment. Main Ideas:

* Very powerful influence of the media.
* Ability to “Persuade” the people.
* It explains why most people prioritize the same issues as important. * It predicts that if people are exposed to the same media, they will feel the same issues are important. * It isn’t complex, and it is easy to understand.

* It is a springboard for further research.
* If people aren’t exposed to the same media, would they feel the same issues are important?

Agenda-setting is the creation of public awareness and concern of salient issues by the news media. Two basis...
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