Agenda Setting Theory - Introduction

Topics: News media, Mass media, Media studies Pages: 9 (2963 words) Published: October 22, 2012
Agenda Setting Theory is first developed by Professor Maxwell McCombs and Professor Donald Shaw in their Chapel Hill study in 1968. The agenda setting theory is separate into three parts which is media agenda, public agenda and policy agenda. Agenda setting theory is defined as the power of news media whereby mass media set an agenda which will influences the public which is called as public agenda by highlighting the issue frequently in media. Therefore the main effect of media in agenda setting is telling people not what to think, but what to think of. The policy agenda is the issues that policy makers consider important after the public start to make campaign or petition to show protest against the organizations. Mass Communication plays an important role in our society its purpose is to inform the public about current and past events. Mass communication is defined in “Mass Media, Mass Culture” as the process whereby professional communicators use technological devices to share messages over great distances to influence large audiences. Within this process the media, which can be a newspaper, a book and television, takes control of the information we see or hear. The media then uses gate keeping and agenda setting to “control our access to news, information, and entertainment” (Wilson 14). Gate keeping is a series of checkpoints that the news has to go through before it gets to the public. Through this process many people have to decide whether or not the news is to be seen or heard. Some gatekeepers might include reporters, writers, and editors. After gate keeping comes agenda setting. Elaboration of the Theory

The Agenda-Setting Theory says the media (mainly the news media) aren’t always successful at telling us what to think, but they are quite successful at telling us what to think about. The power of news media is to set a nation’s agenda, to focus public attention on a few key public issues, is an immense and well-documented influence. For example, newspapers provide a host of cues about the salience of the topics in daily news. They will lead story on first page, large headlines and etc. Besides that, television also consider as a mass communication tool. Television offers numerous cues about salience too. Their opening story is on newscast, length of time devoted to the story and etc. As said by Walter Lippmann, Agenda-Setting Theory is “the world outside & the pictures in our heads”. The news media are a primary source of those pictures in our heads about the larger world of public affairs, a world that for most citizens is “out of reach, out of sight, out of mind.” Agenda setting is divided into two levels where the first level stress on common subject that media thinks the subject is important. The second level decides which part of the subject is important. Both level leads to the concept of agenda setting where the concept is divided into three parts. The first part of the process is the importance of the issues that are going to be discussed in the media. Second, the issues discussed in the media have an impact over the way the public thinks, this is referred as public agenda. Ultimately the public agenda influences the policy agenda. Furthermore, the media agenda affects the public agenda, and the public agenda affects the policy agenda. People would attend only to news and views that didn’t threaten their established beliefs. Agenda-setting will reconfirms the power of the press while still maintaining that individuals were free to choose. The agenda-setting function is a 3 part-process. Firstly, media agenda is the issues discussed in the media. Secondly, public agenda means issues discussed and personally relevant to public. Lastly, policy agenda is the issues that policy makers consider important. Media agenda and public agenda are close to each other. Media agenda is the set of issue addressed by media sources. It is a composite index of media prominence reveled the importance...
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