Sunday, February 8, 2009

Agenda-Setting in 2009

Agenda Setting is the idea that the media doesn’t tell us what to think, but it tells us what to think about. The media controls many aspects of what we hear most about. This is especially true regarding politics. The text talked about a study done in 1968 during a presidential election. The findings of this study concluded that media coverage had a great impact on what voters considered the major issues. McCombs and Shaw wrote, “In short, the data suggest a very strong relationship between the emphasis placed on different campaign issues by the media….and the judgments of voters as to the salience and importance of various campaign topics.”
The text has some criticisms of the study done by McCombs and Shaw, suggesting that the earlier studies had many limitations but did inspire other researchers to conduct studies. As it being an earlier study it left many unanswered questions. This may be true but I found one aspect of the McCombs and Shaw study particularly interesting. Towards the end of their study they start to get into the emphasis certain news mediums put on stories. They compare the agenda setting correlation in Newspapers, Television, and News Magazines. They found that even though these mediums are different they mostly suggested that they all had consensus on major news items. They also suggested that particular mediums had only enough room to focus on what they deemed the most important issues. They wrote, “Since a newspaper, for example, uses only about 15 percent of the material available on any given day, there is considerable latitude for selection among minor items. In short, the political world is reproduced imperfectly by individ­ual news media”. Since this study was done in 1968 it didn’t get to factor in where a lot of people (especially young people) get their news today; the internet.
The internet has many different news sites, and blogging has become a new phenomenon where individuals get to determine what they deem most important. The presidential election was the topic of 2008, and is now continuing to be the topic of 2009. With all these new outlets of media, one would think that many different stories and outlooks could be covered. However, this is a wrong assumption. The bloggers who have the power to focus on any topic they please have all decided to focus on one topic; the presidential inauguration. This article compares the top news stories from January 19th to 23rd 2009.
One can see that both mediums have a major focus on certain issues. And that the bloggers have a major focus on the presidential inauguration. This can be considered a negative, because although the presidential inauguration was important for America and inspiring there a lot of other issues in the world that are not getting talked about. This shows that agenda-setting crosses over into an age where anyone can express their own personal opinion.
What do you think? Do you think that even bloggers do not place emphasis on smaller news stories? Or do you disagree and think that the internet and bloggers have helped society to hear about important issues that might have been missed by mainstream media? Do you think the inauguration received too much attention from the media while other importance issues of that week were hardly talked about, or do you think it was given a fair amount of time? Can you think of another issue that you found was a major topic in people’s minds because of internet coverage? And finally what are your thoughts on the difference between television coverage and internet coverage?

1 comment:

  1. Agenda setting is a major factor in media these days. Since there are so many topics and stories that can be broadcasted and such a limited amount of time to share them, it is necessary to pick the top ones. However, the public normally only sees and hears about the same stories whether they look on TV channels, websites or newspapers.
    Yet the internet has an advantage over newspapers and television. Not only does the internet have unlimited space so they can show more stories but the internet can also update their stories constantly. Thus, if something changes in the story people can be notified immediately and new articles can be added as soon as they have been written. Furthermore, the internet has no time limit so people can get their news all day, everyday. The internet also has a bigger advantage because it has blogs.
    I believe blogs are a positive contributor to giving the people information on current or recent events. There are millions of blogs that have a huge range of various topics. Not only do blogs share important issues that may not be shown anywhere else but they also provide that bloggers opinion. So the reader has the option to voice their opinion by supporting or contradicting the lead blogger, just like we do here. This allows more information to be shared and opens people’s minds to new ideas.
    However, recently like Mary said, the blogs have been focusing more on the inauguration and President Obama. In our text, Baran &Davis call this source of agenda setting as priming. Priming is “the idea that media draw attention to some aspects of political life at the expense of others” (280). I think it received the exact amount of coverage that it deserved. Mary had mentioned that focusing so much on the inauguration can be negative because it gets in the way of other world issues, yet this election affects the world. As I watched the news during the entire election and inauguration I saw stories on how other countries were rooting for Obama and believed America was doing the right thing. Also, as the media covered the inauguration mainly, they still were able to get other stories out to the public. But I think the priming that went on this past year was very necessary! This election is HUGE!