Saturday, 31 March 2012

Theories of Human –Media interaction Agenda Setting Theory

Meaning of Media

Mass communication occurs when a small number of people send messages to a large anonymous and heterogeneous audience through the use of specialized communication media. Otherwise the mass communication represents the creation and sending of a homogeneous message to a large heterogeneous audience through the media.  The units of analysis for mass communication are messages, the medium and the audience. The mass communication theories are   which explain the relationship between media and society.


Agenda setting theory

Agenda setting theory propounded by Maxwell Mc combs and Donald Shaw in the year 1970s. According to agenda setting theory, mass media set the agenda for public opinion by highlighting certain issues. The agenda setting theory telling people not what to think, but what to think of. 

Media focuses on the characters of issues how people should think about.
Agenda setting theory used in political ad, campaigns, business news, PR (public relation) etc.The main effects of the news media are to be agenda setting.  It is usually referred as a function of mass media and not a theory.  The basic ideas of the theory can be to the work of Walter Lippman a prominent American Journalist.

 Walter Lippmann

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) was the most influential American journalist of the 20th century. the influence his writings had, especially his newspaper column “Today and Tomorrow,” on the American public for over 60 years and including his access to and involvement with many of the presidents, politicians, and power brokers he covered from World War I through Vietnam.  Born into one of the German-Jewish "our crowd" families of New York City,  In the 1920s, Lippmann became editorial director of the New York World, then a major daily newspaper with a Democratic orientation. Lippmann wrote books on philosophy, politics, foreign policy and economics. Among his varied roles, Lippmann was the original and most prescient analyst of the modern media  Lippmann was the first to bring the phrase "cold war" to common currency in his 1947 book by the same name. Lippmann saw the purpose of journalism as "intelligence work". Within this role, journalists are a link between policymakers and the public. A journalist seeks facts from policymakers which he then transmits to citizens who form a public opinion. Though a journalist himself, he did not assume that news and truth are synonymous.  He argued that distorted information was inherent in the human mind Lippmann was an informal adviser to several presidents. he won the annual Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting citing "his 1961 interview with Soviet Premier Khrushchev. Lippmann retired from his syndicated column in 1967, and died in 1974. He  has been honored by the United States Postal Service with a 6¢ Great Americans series postage stamp. Lippmann proposed that people did not respond directly to the events in the real world but lived in a pseudo environment, media furnishing the pseudo environment.

The media agenda setting function is a three process
  • Media agenda: issues discussed in the media
  • Public agenda: issues discussed and personally relevant to the public
  • Policy agenda: Issues that policy makers consider important


Agenda setting is believed to occur because the press must be selective in reporting the news. News outlets act as gatekeepers of information and make choices about what to report and what not

The main concept associated with the agenda setting theory is gate keepingPriming and framing

Gate keeping controls over the selection of content discussed in the media. It is especially editors media itself is a gatekeeper. News media decides ‘what’ events to admit through media ‘gates’ on ground of ‘newsworthiness’.For e.g.: News Comes from various sources, editors choose what should appear and what should not that’s why they are called as gatekeepers.

Priming: Activity of the media in proposing the values and standards by which objects of the media attention can be judged. Media’s content will provide a lot of time and space to certain issues, making it more vivid.To say in simple words, Media is giving utmost importance to a news so that it gives people the impression that is the most important information. This is done everyday the particular news is carried as a heading or covered everyday for months. Headlines, Special news features, discussions, expert opinions are used. Media primes a news by repeating the news and giving it more importance E.g. Nuclear deal., Kudankuam, Mullaiperiyar issue.

Framing:Framing is a process of selective control

  1. Way in which news content is typically shaped and contextualized within same frame of reference.
  2. Audience adopts the frames of reference and to see the world in a similar way. It is how people attach importance to a news and perceive it context within which an issue is viewed.
Framing talks about how people attach importance to certain news for e.g. in case of attack, defeat, win and loss, how the media frames the news such that people perceive it in a different way.
We can take India and Pakistan war; same happening is framed in different ways in both the countries. So depending on which media you view your perception will differ.

Advantage /Positive Effects
Media plays a more vital role.
It gives us serious topics detrimental to politicians and other public figures.
It gives us information that is going on its our local communities and across the globe.
It gives a chance to know more about our loved ones.
 It give a way to well being of our freedom and to gather general information.

Negative Side
The information are getting is biased
It does not allow for us to select what we feel is important.

A case: A German Journalist: The European Media Writing Pro-US Stories Under CIA Pressure

Post Categories: Afghanistan RT | Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 13:10 Beijing
German journalist and editor Udo Ulfkotte says he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance ran the risk of being fired.
“I ended up publishing articles under my own name written by agents of the CIA and other intelligence services, especially the German secret service,” Ulfkotte told Russia Insider. “One day the BND (German foreign intelligence agency) came to my office at the Frankfurter Allgemeine in Frankfurt. They wanted me to write an article about Libya and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi…They gave me all this secret information and they just wanted me to sign the article with my name,” Ulfkotte told RT.
“That article was how Gaddafi tried to secretly build a poison gas factory. It was a story that was printed worldwide two days later.”
Ulfkotte reveals all this and more in his book ‘Bought Journalists,’ where he mentions that he feels ashamed for what he has done in the past.
“It is not right what I have done in the past. To manipulate people, to make propaganda. And it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray people not only in Germany, but all over Europe,” he told RT. “I was a journalist for 25 years and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public.”
 “I was bribed by the Americans not to report  exactly the truth…I was invited by the German Marshall Fund of the United States to travel to the US. They paid for all my expenses and put me in contact with Americans they’d like me to meet,” he said.
“I became an honorary citizen of the state of Oklahoma in the US just because I wrote pro-American. I was supported by the CIA. I have helped them in several situations and I feel ashamed for that too.”Many other journalists are involved in the same practice, Ulfkotte added.
“Most of the journalists you see in foreign countries, they claim to be journalists and they might be. But many of them, like me in the past, are so-called ‘non-official cover.’ It means you work for an intelligence agency, you help them if they want you to. But they will never say they know you.”

The journalists selected for such jobs usually come from big media organizations. The relationship with the secret service starts as a friendship.

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