Sunday, February 8, 2009

Agenda-Setting

posted by Kristen Finelli:

At the mall yesterday, my brother picked up an Alex Rodriguez t-shirt, turned it around and said, "Pretty soon, these are going to say A-ROID." I laughed, but it turns out that he wasn't the only one thinking it.

The section in the textbook discusses agenda-setting and politics, but I'm going to talk a little bit about agenda-setting and sports. The text defines agenda-setting as "the idea that media don't tell people what to think, but what to think about" [B&N 279]. And this week, New York media wants people to think about A-Rod. Everyone in New York has some opinion on this story. Whether they're Yankee fans who are angry about it, Yankee fans who insist he did nothing wrong, or, like me, Mets fans who are just amused by the whole thing, you cannot go anywhere without hearing about it.

The top story for the Daily News this morning reads "Sources: A-Rod Used Steroids". The less important stories are listed below: "West-Side murder suicide", "Obama urges Senate to move on stimulus", "Driver quizzed as tossed man dies". Is a story about a baseball player really more important than heinous crimes, or the country's failing economy? The Daily News seems to think so. So does the New York Post. Their front page story reads "A-R*D: Only the Truth Can Save Rodriguez Now". Even the New York Times has a story about Rodriguez on the front page. Flipping through the television stations last night, every news program was talking about it. It was as if it was the only news to break in New York City this weekend, despite the fact that hundreds died in fires in Australia and there was an accident on Lake Eerie.

The same thing happened last week when Michael Phelps was busted for smoking pot. I went into New York City on Monday for my internship, and as I walked from Grand Central Station to Madison Square Garden, I passed dozens of men selling newspapers, all with Michael Phelps' face plastered on the front page. A week later, people are still talking about it. A Google news search resulted in over 17,000 stories, with more being written every hour.
http://news.google.com/news?hl=en&um=1&tab=wn&nolr=1&q=michael+phelps

The text also says that "...Readers learn not only about a given issue, but how much importance to attach to that issue from the amount of information in a news story and its position...[B&N 279]. If a person from outside the country saw the newspapers or watched the evening news this weekend, they would assume that Alex Rodriguez, who supposedly took steroids over six years ago, while he was still on the Texas Rangers, was the absolute most important thing to happen in 72 hours. Or, that, shockingly, a 24-year-old male was caught smoking marijuana with his friends.

So what is your opinion on agenda-setting, especially in relation to these sports stories? Do you think that these stories warrant as much attention as they getting? Should the "real" news be pushed to the back burner while the country discusses the poor judgement of two "famous" men?

52 comments:

  1. I totally agree that agenda setting is a major function in the media. According to chapter 10 in Baran & Davis, “ Of all the issues that should or could have been aired and examined , only a few became dominant” (279). This relates to the A- Rod steroid scandal and Michael Phelps weed scandal having more importance then the American economy. I do not understand why the news media and internet think the American public is more interested in celebrity scandals. Then President Obama stimulus plan, the economy, and world news. I also think that gate keeping is a factor. Gate keeping controls what media information is more important than others. Gate keeping also put emphasis on information that they think is important and what the public should know (137). I do not believe that the stories above should get as much media coverage as they are receiving. I think that American media focus too much on the idealization of celebrities and there life. Then what really important information general public needs to have knowledge of. And also spend less time covering stories that the American public need to know. The public does not need to know that A-Rod is using steroids. Who cares? And the Michael Phelps smokes weed. What young guy doesn’t? The American people need to know how the President Obama’s stimulus plan is going to affect them. Also has the stimulus plan made it through congress. I believe this more important than A-Rod steroids scandal and Michael Phelps weed scandal. Because honestly this is not going to be the last time we will see a sport scandal. Why is it so important? Real news needs to get most of the media attention. I also believe that the consumer needs to make a coconscious choice to look at the real news first before celebrity gossip. That doesn’t mean that the mass media cannot focus more on real news.

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  3. I feel that the stories written are the stories people want to read. whether people want to read about them or not, they must be doing so otherwise people would not buy the newspaper or have so many google hits and searches. This especially goes for people in New York. no offense to those that hail from there, but many new yorkers will say that they are ignorant. that being so they would much rather read about ARod instead of australian fires or something about lake eerie. They only paper i would even expect something about those topics would be the NY times since it is read in many places, but other papers such as the post know what their readers want, and that is stories about yankee players. As for the michael phelps story however, i believe that is just embellished beyond belief. he smokes like so many other people and people find it shocking because he is the best olympian of all time. But, people want to know about his life outside of the swimming pool and dont like what they find. It is interesting to notice how both of these stories deal with drugs though. One is from 6 years ago and it might not even be ARod who did them. But the other is marijuana which is more common and just as easy to get as advil.
    B&D discuss the Media System Dependency Theory and say "The uses people make of media determine media's influence. If we rely on many sources other than media for our information about events, then the role of media is less than if we rely exclusively on a few media sources." (Pg. 273) I feel this goes along with my thinking that if people didnt want to know about it and read it then it wouldnt be written so widely and read by everyone. As for "real" news, who is to say what the definition of that is? i feel it is the editor, again he knows what people wants to read in his newspaper, tv news show, website or whatever outlet. in the end its all about making money by selling ad space and commercial time.

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  4. According to Baran & Davis, agenda setting is “the idea that media don’t tell people what to think, but what to think about” (279). When looking at the news, whether on television, newspaper or the internet, you can clearly see the media using this tactic. Right now the nation is in terrible condition and our newly elected President is trying to make changes, and all we can find in the news is information about how Subway said they might not drop Michael Phelps as a spokesperson because he was caught smoking marijuana.
    Recently, like Kristen said, it has been centered around A-rod and his use of steroids and Michael Phelps and marijuana. I don’t follow any sports ever, but I have learned a lot about this issue just from looking at the cover of EVERY newspaper that gets sent to my house. There is a lot more news stories that are more important to our lives, then to read about if A-Rod is using steroids. It’s not even just with sports anymore though, celebrities in my opinion have taken over the daily news. I just recently started to read perezhilton.com and this is where I first saw anything about Michael Phelps and the marijuana incident. I feel that “news” that can be found on that website , should not be making front page stories on newspapers such as the New York Times. They do warrant attention to a certain degree. It is important for people to be informed about what is going on in the sports world, but not as much attention that they do receive now. I can see if there was a headline on the front page of the paper about A-Rod’s steroid use under a giant picture of President Obama and his economic stimulus package. The media puts these sports and celebrities stories first because it is what sells, but I also blame the media for making our society that way to begin with. If we were never exposed to these celebrity stories being on the front page or the center of the news, we would still buy the news if it were just the news. With the media using agenda setting, it takes a lot for the average person to get real and important news. If you’re watching television news programs, you almost have to tune into the different main stations just to get the real news from the fluff. And the same goes with finding news online, if you use a few websites to look up news, you can then find real news somewhere between all the crime stories and celebrity gossip.

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  5. Posted on behalf of Christine Florio:

    Agenda setting definitely has a strong presence in the media. I personally find it amusing, yet somewhat sad, that stories such as these have a more important position than headlines about severe accidents, political issues, and our economical failure. Although these people are in the limelight and it is part of what you sign up for with the job, I feel that if these stories warrant as much attention as they are getting, then other stories should warrant at LEAST the same amount of attention; less is unacceptable. However, the media knows what sells, and ultimately, that is the goal. Different forms of media know that putting a huge, shocking headline dealing with sex, scandal, and/or misbehavior on the cover of a publication, the screen of the television or computer, or verbally conveying it on the radio will gain listeners and/or sell copies. It’s the sad but true reality.

    The “real” news should never be pushed to the back burner, because ultimately, news about steroids (from over 6 years ago!) and a young guy smoking weed with his friends is, to me, fluff. What about our economy? What about people in danger or getting hurt in fatal accidents? As I’ve gotten older and matured throughout college, I’ve become much more interested in reading the “real” news more so than the fluff or the gossip. I’ve also realized that for the longest time, I was reading what the media wanted me to notice. The biggest headlines, the front page, and the biggest pictures are presented with such significance that one may just assume that it is the issue which deserves the most attention. “Chapter 10 of Baran & Davis explained that subjects in an experiment “regarded the target problem as more important for the country, cared more about it, believed that government should do more about it, reported stronger feelings about it, and were much more likely to identify it as one of the country’s most important problems” (281). While news about these “famous” people can be entertaining and informative in moderation, once I started searching on my own and reading about issues in our country, as well as the rest of the world, I became so much more aware of so many issues, and I realized the importance of knowing what is going on in the world around me. That’s where knowledge is, and that is and how we are to become well-rounded individuals and a more flourishing society. Chapter 10 in Baran & Davis explains that “Americans’ view of their society and nation are powerfully shaped by the stories that appear on the evening news. We found that people who were shown network broadcasts edited to draw attention to a particular problem assigned greater importance to that problem-greater importance than they themselves did before the experiment began” (281). With its constant presence, agenda setting forces us to have to work a little harder to fish out the news we need to know, instead of just looking at that big, bold, main headline(s) and assuming that it is the most important thing we should be aware of that day. However, that little bit of extra work to find the “real” news, or to at least expand our knowledge beyond what is most boldly presented to us, is worth it in the end.

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  6. I am torn when it comes to agenda setting and celebrities. When reading these headlines about Phelps and A-Rod I think to myself, this has all just gotten out of hand, but yet I still read these articles out of fascination. I think the media is one hundred percent an escape from our realities and the mundane of everyday life, which is why tabloids and even reality television are so popular and lucrative in today’s society. The news, at times, can be dreary and depressing; who wants to hear about more casualties and destruction night after night? But at the same time, these stories about drug use from celebrity’s splash covers of every major newspaper, trumping more “important” stories.

    Because of this debate between celebrity news versus “real news” taking over media, the knowledge gap comes into play. B&N describe this as, “systematic differences in knowledge between better-informed and less-informed segments of a population” (276). I believe that the agenda setting of editors and publishers of news are pushing gossip stories to the frontline because they believe that will get the most attention; but is this not separating the knowledge gap even further? Shouldn’t everyone be as equally informed of the “real” news so as to be aware of what is going on in our world? It is astonishing to me that A-Rod’s steroid use from years ago is the first story you hear on the 6 o’clock news over the Australian fires and the economic state of our country, but are the agenda setters to blame, or those who are only interested in “fluff” stories such as these?

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  7. Agenda setting is a very interesting topic to discuss because everyone has a different opinion about it. I have to agree with some of my other classmates when they talk about how these stories are being written because people want to read about them. In fact, we have evidence that people want to read these types of stories. The evidence is the number of views of certain articles that are being read each day. They are usually the articles that are about celebrities.

    I also think it is interesting to see the shift between stories. Last week, everyone was talking about the Michael Phelps incident because everyone had read the articles that were posted online and also about A-rod’s use of steroids. Ever since last night everyone is talking about the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident. People are also discussing how Blink 182 is back!

    I think that we are forced to want to read these kinds of stories because that is what we are constantly hearing about. That is the reason why all of the important stories are being put on the back burner. If Perez Hilton was only writing blogs about politics, then that would be what we would be constantly talking about because that would be what we are surrounding ourselves with. However, this is not the case and because he talks about not only politics but also celebrities, we are drawn to want to read the more exciting stories about the lives of our favorite celebrities. Baran and Davis talk about the media and how it has had the “power to profoundly shape our perceptions of the social world and to manipulate our actions, often without our conscious awareness” (45). I think that this is definitely true especially for those who are avid Perez Hilton readers because we are thinking about anything else when we are reading his blogs. We are just concerned on getting updates on our favorite celebrities’ lives. We aren’t necessarily thinking about how this source of media is shaping the way we view the social world because we are more concerned with getting the information that we want. However, it is having some sort of effect on the way we view the social world because some people believe that these celebrities’ lives is also how are lives are which we all know is not true at all.

    -Marlaina Luciano <3

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  8. Agenda setting, I feel, is so prevelant in our lives that many people don't even realize it. They assume that whatever is on the front page of the newspaper, or is the first story on the nightly news, is placed there for a legitimate reason. They fail to take a more active role in media consumption and accept the media merely as they see or hear it. If these comparatively unimportant stories (like the A-Rod and Michael Phelps controversies) are what a person is most exposed to, then they will miss out on stories that report on issues that have a much greater impact on the nation and the world at large.

    So while I don't think that these "fluff"-type stories should get quite as much attention as they actually do, in the end it's all about what will attract viewers/ readers. The number one priority of media sources is not always to provide a wide, diverse range of stories that will make audiences more well-rounded and educated; that top concern is to make money. Without an audience, newspapers and TV stations cannot pay for their expenses. So although it may be disheartening to see that the top news story on channel after channel is about the potentially illegal actions of athletes, while the economy is downward spiraling and companies are cutting thousands of jobs left and right, it is the reality of the world we live in.

    The text discusses different ways that media distort or bias their content, two of which, I feel, play an important role in this topic- personalized news and dramatized news (288-289). The text states "Most people relate better to individuals than to groups or institutions, so most news stories center around people" (288), which is part of the reason why these A-Rod and Michael Phelps stories attract such a large audience. People marvel at the fact that these individuals have acted in such ways. As far as the dramatization of news is concerned, the text states that news "must be attractively packaged, and a primary means of doing this involves dramatization." (289) It is easier to make the A-Rod and Michael Phelps ordeals into scandalous stories than the economy or the government.

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  9. There is a lot of talk about “real” news being thrown around in this blog and its comments. The issue is a feisty one. How do we actually define real news?
    We have all read the texts and articles and it is quite clear that we can agree that agenda setting is ever present in the world of media today. Many will argue the extent of it-how far agendas are pushed and whether they actually apply to the people of this country-or if the right things are chosen to be put on the agenda for certain media sources. While we can agree to disagree on the latitude of agenda setting, we cannot deny the fact that it is and has been happening for a long time.
    So how does one determine what is real news? The “agenda setters” –how do they know what to pick? In the article by McCombs and Shaw they said that “People, of course, vary greatly in their attention to mass media political information. Some, normally the better educated and most politically interested, actively seek information: but most seem to acquire it, if at all, without much effort. It just comes in.” While McCombs and Shaw applied this quote mainly to political information I think it can also be applied to any media information as well. We all take in the news-whether we like it or not. It is there. An ever present source of information. These agenda setters know this. They know that many people take little time to consider what they are actually watching-they just watch. How do they determine what we watch?
    Everyone has their different opinion of “real news.” Michael Phelps may not be the hottest news to the Quinnipiac Board of Trustees, but the poster boy Olympic star being caught smoking it up is most definitely hot news for the Olympic Governing Committee (I’m making these committees up-just trying to make a point!). And while the Quinnipiac Board of Trustees could care less about the fast Phelps-they sure won’t miss a beat when the news report turns to the current financial status of local universities and colleges. But I’m sure all of the Michael Phelps will turn off the TV as soon as the word “economy” is mentioned. News to some is not news to others.
    Being a good media student I try and suck in as many sources of media I can in a day. CNN.com, The Globe and the Times, weather.com, our local student papers, boston.com, WSJ, NBC, ABC, Foxnews, etc. etc. They are all in my favorites listing and I try and make it to every site in the morning. But, yes I will admit it!, my favorite site is always perezhilton.com. I know that when I pull up all of my news sources I have to put Perez at the end-because if I didn’t I would most likely ignore all the others. Do I consider myself an “early adopter” (people who adopt an innovation early, even before receiving significant amounts of information. B&N pg 271). Not really. Do I consider myself a “change agent” (those who directly influence early adopters and opinion leader. B&N p272). Most days-not at all. But I have the right to decide what I think is “real news”. And because some people like perezhilton.com-the Michael Phelps and A-Rod stories just may receive as many hits as the economic package stories or those about our new president. My point-and maybe a question- is yes we admit that the agenda is being set for us. But choose what you want to hear-to see? Chose your favorites-and save the best for last. 

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  10. While it should come as no surprise the stories with the biggest celebrity gossip and mishaps are the ones to get front page news. If you think about it, yes we do put these people up on pedestals for everyone to look up to and in some ways the press feels that there’s no better story than to see one of these proclaimed ‘Gods’ fall. In other ways I guess you can say that we’re all a little nosey, we like to stick our heads where they don’t belong such as in other people’s personal lives. And when celebrity personal lives come into play, lives that are on display for millions to see, the press chomps at the bit because they know that if they’re one of the first ones to send out a scandalous picture or accusation or claim then they’ll reap the benefits, such as ratings and number of copies sold.

    So while I personally don’t really care if Phelps smoked or ARod took steroids apparently countless other people do otherwise it would be pushed to page 15 at the bottom corner of the sports page. But I can also say that I don’t blame the media corporations for doing what they’re doing. In a lot of ways I think we, the public, are the ones to blame because we give in to these kinds of stories and make them a lot of times a lot bigger than what they should be. A lot of times we can point the finger at ourselves as shown in a slightly different example in the text, “(there’s) 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” (Baran & Davis, 280). Nobody is forcing that newspaper in your hand or telling you to buy that magazine. Purchasing these forms of media is saying that we agree with what kinds of stories are being printed and how things are run at these corporations.

    This post also talks about the possibility of wars and earthquakes being potential front page news instead of celebrity gossip. But do we really want to make that front page news as well? Perhaps the media is choosing between the lesser of two evils thinking that steroid usage is a little more user friendly than mass devastation and death. While I believe that these natural disasters are a shame, to focus the bulk of media attention to these matters may also be the wrong way to turn. I somehow don’t think we want to walk around commenting on how many people died in unfortunate disasters.

    One thing remains true and it’s that the media has the power to, “tell us what to think about. But the media can also tell us how to think about some objects” (282). In some ways we are all victims to this theory but we are also the ones to blame, as we continue to spend the money for these newspapers and magazines everyday.

    -Dave Bertagno

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  11. Agenda setting essentially tells the reader/audience what to think about and the important issues at hand. We as media consumers believe that the media are our “watchdogs,” they provide us with information that is important and the newsworthy stories of the day. I think that we tend to build a certain trust or reliance on the news to provide us with information but when the agendas only consist of their “so-called top stories” such as A-Rod, Octuplets, and chubby Jessica Simpson, I begin to think that the media has slipped away about the important issues of the world and focuses on silly frivolous topics.

    In chapter 10 of Baran and Davis, Agenda setting “Americans’ view of their society and nation are powerfully shaped by the stories that appear on the evening news”(Iyender and Kinder p280-281) I went on ABCnews and found these exact stories at the top of the list above any world issues like the economy or politics. A lead story reads “Octuplet Grandma Calls Daughter “Unconscionable” It may be newsworthy to some that a woman would even dream about having 8 children to add onto the 6 children already but is it really newsworthy to know how much she spends on toys or that her mother is bashing her for her decisions?

    I think that it is ridiculous for these stories to be the top headlines. The media needs to educate and keep the focus on our economic crisis and not on the 5 pound gain of a celebrity.

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  12. For many months before this past November, the media’s main focus was unquestionably on the election. News channels feverishly tried to convince people that their channel would bring the people the best and most updated election coverage around the clock. Every day I saw articles in newsstands and online about what Obama and McCain’s opinions were regarding issues and topics surrounding the election. People were constantly talking about who they were voting for, who said what during the presidential debates, etc. After the election, Obama’s inauguration was an amazing and monumental day in history that was rightfully covered heavily by every media outlet.

    I felt confident throughout the election that I was, for the most part, keeping up with election coverage and staying knowledgeable about current issues, events, and stories regarding the race. In the article “The agenda-setting function of mass media”, Maxwell E. Combs and Donald L. Shaw write, “People, of course, vary greatly in their attention to mass media political information. Some, normally the better educated and most politically interested (and those least likely to change political beliefs), actively seek information; but most seem to require it, if at all, without much effort” (Combs and Shaw, 153). I experienced this phenomenon that Combs and Shaw describe here during the course of the election. Even when I felt I was not doing the best job of keeping up with the race, I still seemed to require election information effortlessly. Election coverage was everywhere and it seemed almost impossible to not know what was going on.

    Now it is apparent that the media has shifted its focus from President Obama to other less significant stories. The effect this shift has had on people has been noticeable to me in my day-to-day interactions recently. I have noticed that most people would be able to tell you about the latest Michael Phelps incident, but not many would be able to talk about Obama’s recent discussions with congress and his plans of action for our nation. I am myself am guilty of knowing more about Michael Phelps than Obama’s current actions, and not because I want to know more about Michael Phelps, but simply because the media has covered it more and people are talking about it more. In fact, I do not think I have even read an article about Michael Phelps’ marijuana usage, but could still tell you a lot about the incident just because people have been talking about it so much.

    It is in this way that I think the media does indeed have the power to agenda-set and program our minds into thinking more about one topic over another. Though our nation is still at war and in economic turmoil, it seems as if everyone is more concerned with less important news stories. The media recently has caused us to shift our attention from more important issues like the state of our nation to Michael Phelps because they have given these less significant stories bigger headlines and more coverage. As agenda-setting proposes, the media has not told us what to think, but what to think about, that is, it has recently told us to constantly think about the situation with Michael Phelps.

    It is unfortunate that such insignificant stories such as the situations with Michael Phelps and A-Rod have taken precedence over President Obama’s plans of action, but the phenomenon caused by this shift in focus created by the media is a good indicator of the fact that agenda-setting in the media is real and can effect a population significantly.

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  13. For certain athletes, they are famous for their athletic abilities as well as their famous personas. It is no surprise that their personal lives have the potential to be in the news as much, if not more, than their professional lives. Just as they would with any famous people in the limelight it seems the media will gear the ublic’s attention to an athlete in the news if the news is sensational enough.

    When an athlete is notable for something other than his/her athletic skills, most likely it is because he/she is of celebrity status and for some reason their welfare is of mass concern. In my opinion most stories of famous people in the news should not warrant more attention than hard news, but we live in a society that is attracted to the lives of others. More specifically, these people live lives that most “average” people will not experience. So when these above average people who live on a pedestal fall below our standards we set for them, we either feel satisfaction or dissatisfaction. But who is setting these standards? Is it the public? Is it the media? Is it both?

    I believe it is a combination. The media do an excellent job with the positioning of a story when “lead stories have a great agenda-setting effect (Baran and Davis, 281). For example, in broadcast news when these athletes are making the beginning of the news, people will pay more attention to that story (B&D 281) whereas they may lose interest with local or national hard news. In addition, the lead story is expected to be the most newsworthy (B&D 281). With that being said, the public or audience continues to fuel the fire by watching these programs. As it was said in Field of Dreams, if you build it they will come. Celebrity gossip will always be of interest as long as natural curiosity persists. We are naturally curious about each other and celebrities engage that curiosity.

    These days there are television show magazines that air in the evening in which their primary content thrive on celebrity news. This may eliminate a local news station’s need to a report on such “fluff” when these television magazines air well before the 11 o’clock news. I do not think athletes are on the top of the agenda when it comes to celebrity gossip, but they are certainly part of it due to their roles in pop culture. I think this topic is subjective since what my local news covers may not be the same as what another’s covers. I also think that it says a lot when a news story of an athlete/celebrity, like Alex Rodriguez’s, is spread by word of mouth more often than a typical topic like the environment. The difference could be that we are so used to topics like the environment that the fluff stories spice up otherwise “typical” news. Maybe our society is so desensitized and our television programming so diverse that there really is no set guidelines as to what is and isn’t more important.

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  14. I think that the recent overwhelming coverage of both Alex Rodriguez and Michael Phelps are great examples of agenda setting in media. Baran and Davis in the text use issues of the 2008 presidential election to illustrate how agenda setting tactics are used to not “tell people what to think, but what to think about”(B&D, 279) Opposed to dedicating the majority of news coverage to the important crucial issues of the campaign, more time was dedicated to issues about race and religion of the presidential candidates. What is similar here in these two examples of agenda setting the focus is on personal issues targeting an individual. While it is clear that our society is overwhelmingly consumed by celebrity gossip, the question remains why? It is apparent to me that the media and its consumers are more interested in stories targeting personal information of a specific individual rather then what or how these peoples actions effect our society and our lives. The fact remains that during the 2008 election Obama’s plans to deal with “No child left behind” would have a far greater impact on the lives of millions of children around the world. Yet rather it seemed as though more time was spent covering Obama’s daughters, Obama on GQ, or the impact of Obama’s race.

    When thinking about agenda setting I couldn’t help but think about the Clinton administration. Although I was only a child when President Clinton was in office, I cant think of one important fact about Clintons time in office asides from the Lewinsky scandal. I question if this is an example of agenda setting, or because I was too young to remember anything else significant, or if it was really that important of a story that that needed to be covered 24/7 on almost every news station.

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  15. To me, agenda setting is one of the most interesting topics we have learned about. It is crazy to think that of all the news stories that break every single day, the media guides us and tells us which ones are "important." I think the book describes this very well, when they explain the 2008 presidential election. Our country was not in the greatest shape during that time, and for the mattter we still aren't right now. But I agree with Baron and Davis when they recall what most people remember from the election. I remember hearing about Michelle Obama's latest dress, people making fun of Sarah Palin, and what celebrities were backing up which candidates. Yes, in the debates we obviously heard about the issues at hand, but not many other places. Baron and Davis stated, "The mass media may well deterine the important issues- that is, the media may set the 'agenda' for the campaign" (279). Why did the media put emphasis on the areas of the election that it did? Baron and Davis also bring up the idea of "priming,"
    which I think we can apply here as well. They stated that priming is "the idea that media draw attention to some aspects of political life at the expense of others" (280). They explain that when evaluating political issues, people consider things that come easily to mind (281). If I understand this concept correctly, I would assert that priming is a way to just ease the surface of a political issue. To perhaps just give a little information that is easy to understand, so that the public will stay interested.

    To go back to Kristen's ideas about the Arod and and Michael Phelps controversy, I think she brings up some good points. We are in bascially an economic crisis, our first African American President was just sworn into office, we have troops in Iraq, and hundreds of innocent people are dying in Australia from bush fires. Yet, I guarantee many Americans do not know as much about these news stories than they do about if Arod tested positive for steroids or what drug Michael Phelps was caught using. I believe agenda setting comes down to the fact that the public gets bored with their own lives, and we like to see drama and controversy. Media outlets realize this, and cover stories where they can get the most attention. We are fascinated with the lives of celebrities, therefore if one "messes up," it will be everywhere.

    Meagan Finnegan

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