Agenda Setting Theory: the World Outside the Pictures in Our Heads

Topics: News media, Mass media, Agenda-setting theory Pages: 6 (1890 words) Published: February 18, 2013
Running head: Agenda Setting Theory


Rodelas, Jenica D.
Villamor, Diana Rose
Pontaoe, Dharell

University of Pangasinan- PHINMA Education Network

Author note:
This paper was prepared for COM 002, 2ABMC-1, taught by Professor Augustus Manzano

“The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about. The world will look different to different people.” Bernard Cohen Agenda-setting theory describes the "ability [of the news media] to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda." That is, if a news item is covered frequently and prominently the audience will regard the issue as more important. Mass media only shows you what they want you to see. They are very successful at telling you what to think about. Print or broadcast news will then take away the audiences ability to think for themselves. 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. 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 be regarded as relevant.(Carroll & McCombs,2003) HISTORY

The theory can be traced to the first chapter of Walter Lippmann’s 1922 classic, Public Opinion. In that chapter, "The World Outside The Pictures In Our Heads," Lippmann pointed out that the media dominates over the creation of pictures in our head and memory; he believed that the public reacts not to the actual event produced but the picture of the actual event in our memory.(Miller,2005) Lippmann argues that the mass media are the principal connection between events in the world and the images in the minds of the public. Without using the term "agenda-setting," Walter Lippmann was writing about what we today would call "agenda-setting." Following Lippmann, in 1963, Bernard Cohen observed that the press "may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about. The world will look different to different people," Cohen continues, "depending on the map that is drawn for them by writers, editors, and publishers of the paper they read." [5] As early as the 1960s, Cohen had expressed the idea that later led to formalization of agenda-setting theory by McCombs and Shaw. The concept of agenda setting was launched by McCombs and Shaw during the 1968 presidential election in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. They examined Lippmann’s idea of construction of the pictures in our heads by comparing the issues on the media agenda with key issues on the undecided voters’ agenda. They found evidence of agenda setting by identifying that salience of the news agenda is highly correlated to that of the voter’s agenda. ( IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF THEORY

1) Public agenda setting- Is in which most important public issues or problems are measured by public opinion and agenda. Example (people's strong beliefs) 2) Media agenda setting- Is the pattern in which news coverage print and broadcast news gets measured through the importance and depth of the story. Example (Presidential race information) 3) Policy agenda setting- Is more scientific in its nature it’s the thought in which we pay more attention to how the media or public might influence elite policy makers. Example (President, Congress, Religion) 4) Corporate agenda setting-issues that big business and corporations consider important (corporate)

(1) The press and the media do not reflect...
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