Agenda-Setting Assignment

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5th of November 2012

Agenda-Setting Assignment

In agenda-setting news outlets act as gatekeepers of information. Policy agenda is when the media sets their own agenda based on issues that they think are the most important. And when they decide on these most important issues, they give them the highest importance. The media highlights certain aspects because they believe that these aspects are what we should know; and if there is something they don’t mention, then that’s something that according to them, we shouldn’t know – whether for our benefit or theirs. Despite the simplicity of creating an agenda, every different news outlet has a different agenda, based on their interest or what they believe to be our interest. Something important however to bear in mind is that, even though the media draws our attention to certain issues, they can’t tell us how to think about them – at the end of the day, how you perceive an issue depends on you.

To give examples on how differently agenda-setting can be used, I will talk about two different news sources, an independent one and a national one.

As a national news outlet I will talk about “CNN”. CNN (Cable News Network) is both America’s first news channel as well as the first channel to offer 24-hour coverage. CNN in the United States is sometimes described as CNN/US to differentiate the American Channel from the International one. CNN/US was founded by Ted Turner in 1980, and since then has been one of the worlds leading news outlets.

“The Independent” is an independent, British, morning newspaper owned by Alexander Lebedev with Chris Blackhurst as the current editor in chief. The Independent was first launched in 1986 and holds the title as UK’s youngest daily newspaper.

To analyze different agenda-settings, lets look at two similar news items reported in both of these newspapers and compare their similarities and differences.

Let’s take the picking of Egypt’s new pope as one news story. Both news outlets reported the story completely different. CNN told the story in a very short article that focused primarily on the fact that Christians in Egypt are a minority. If one were to analyze this article on the terms of Salience and Priming, one would notice very interesting facts. Firstly its very obvious that CNN’s priority is not to talk about the new pope, since he is hardly mentioned throughout the entire article. Instead the article focuses on the terms “Christians”. The fact that they are a minority is mentioned several times. They also mention that according to a few forums made, the Christian population in Egypt is between 5 and 9%. The church bombing attack that took place in January killing 21 people was also stated. However nothing is mentioned about the ceremony itself other than that a blindfolded boy picked one of the three potential popes through picking his name from a crystal bowl. Egypt’s former pope is also mentioned. His date and cause of death are also cited. In terms or Framing, it is obvious that CNN has given this story a big importance as it was in the “Top Stories” section. However the words used don’t really talk about the event itself but rather inform us about Christians in Egypt.

Despite the fact that this event wasn’t in The Independent’s top news list, they gave the story a bigger importance. The article was a lot longer than in was in CNN and more importantly it focused on the event itself. They talked about the young boy who had to pick a name, about the thousands of cameras that were there, and about how big of an event this was for all 8 million Christians in Egypt. They also quoted many people that said that how important finally having a new pope meant to them and how because of Egypt’s current difficult political status, it’s good to have a figure that represents faith and hope. In terms of salience, priming and framing no words were repeated and the articles priority was to display how significant this event was for...
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