The 2000 Presidential Elections are upon us and who do we turn to for information regarding the candidates? What issues will be the hot topics for the election race? For that matter, what will be the hot topics in the media for next week? Just as this paper must be structured, organized, and center around a main idea, so must all information presented to an audience. Information can only be easily processed if it contains some kind of structure. This includes the information that is provided by the media. The media have to structure their ideas and stories on a daily, weekly, and even monthly basis. This process is known as agenda setting. Television, radio, and print medias all use agenda setting, but what about a new media, such as the Internet?
Let’s begin by understanding agenda setting and its place in mass media theory. The early ideas of agenda setting have been around for decades. Lippmann made reference to the first ideas of agenda setting in his book Public Opinion. He spoke about how the information of the world is much too vast to comprehend without simplifying it (Baran 299). This can be interpreted as receivers of information need to have a structured, well-defined scheme of information. This structured, well-defined scheme of information causes the media to pick and choose information that it feels is relevant to the audience. This is where agenda setting presents itself. Agenda setting is the idea that the media choose topics that it thinks are important and focuses its broadcasts around this topic.
McCombs and Shaw fully developed the theory of agenda setting in respect to public agenda in a study in the early 1970’s. Their cross-sectional study involved the effects of media agenda setting on public opinion. They revealed that there were indeed correlations between the two, which backed the ideas of Cohen (Brosius 5). They derived that, “the basic agenda-setting hypothesis asserts that the issues and information presented on the media agenda become over time the issues and information on the public agenda (Leckenby).
This brings us to the two factors that influence an audience when presenting information through a media: the vividness of presentation and the position of a story (Baran 302). These factors, along with others, induce the audience to feel as if a particul...
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...tting within the media of television. Television
The media is an institution that works through the circular process. We tell it what is important to us, and it tells us what we should deem as important. The media is an institution, run by the people for the people, that keep us informed. It brings us stories from distant places and reveals to us what we can not personally witness. The all powerful media is a huge part of our lives. With all of this in mind, we must consider the process of agenda setting. A process which is used unrelentlessly on television.
Baran, Stanley J. and Dennis K. Davis. Mass Communication Theory. California:
Wadsworth Publishing, 2000.
Brosius, Hans-Bernd and Hans Mathias Kepplinger. “Linear and Nonlinear Models of
Agenda-Setting in Television.” Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 36
Cook, Fay Lomax et al. “Media and Agenda Setting.” The Public Opinion Quarterly 47
(Spring 1983): 16-35.
Leckenby, John. “Agenda Setting Theory.” Internet. 10 Nov. 1999
Weise, Elizabeth. “Does the Internet Change News Reporting? Not Quite.” Media
Studies Journal 11 (1997): 159-163.
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