Agenda Setting Hypothesis 1 Rajesh Cheemalakonda

Agenda Setting Hypothesis
Introduction What are the crucial issues that happened in Andhra Pradesh in the recent times, the tight security measures taken in Hyderabad during Ayodhya verdict? EMAAR Scam? Andhra Pradesh was faced with many serious problems during 2009 and 2010. A series of issues happened after the helicopter crash that killed Andhra Pradesh CM Dr. Raja Sekhar Reddy that took place on September 2nd 2009. The rise of Telangana movement resulted in appointing Sree Krishna committee over the issue; Succession politics in congress party took multiple twists and turns. Various scams in mining, real estate and other sectors were exposed. What do you remember is the important issues covered in the media in these last two years? The sudden death of Dr. Raja Sekhar Reddy? Outbreak of Telangana movement? The floods in Kurnool district? Or the Succession politics that rampaged in congress party? Of all the issues that are covered in media in recent times only a few issues were viewed as most important issues facing Andhra Pradesh that is agenda-setting. Agenda setting is the idea that media don¶t tell people what to think, but what to think about.
The power of the news media to set a nation¶s agenda, to focus public attention on a few key public issues, is an immense and well-documented influence. Not only do people acquire factual information about public affairs from the news media, readers and viewers also learn how much importance to attach to a topic on the basis of the emphasis placed on it in the news. Newspapers provide a host of cues about the salience of the topics in the daily news ± lead story on page one, other front page display, large headlines, etc. Television news also offers numerous cues about salience ± the opening story on the newscast, length of time devoted to the story, etc. These cues

Agenda Setting Hypothesis 2 Rajesh Cheemalakonda
repeated day after day effectively communicate the importance of each topic. In other words, the news media can set the agenda for the public¶s attention to that small group of issues around which public opinion forms.

Agenda Setting Theory According to Wikipedia, The agenda-setting theory is the theory that the mass-news media have a large influence on audiences by their choice of what stories to consider newsworthy and how much prominence and space to give them. Agenda-setting theory¶s main postulate is salience transfer. Salience transfer is the ability of the mass media to transfer issues of importance from their mass media agendas to public agendas. According to the AgendaSetting Hypothesis, media does not try to persuade the audience to think one way or another, it merely presents the most important messages through which the audiences can chose to accept or deny. For example, all news channels and news papers have almost same headlines in news bulletins and front page of news papers. History and Foundation Agenda-setting theory was introduced in 1972 by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in their ground breaking study of the role of the media in 1968 presidential campaign in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The theory explains the correlation between the rate at which media cover a story and the extent that people think that this story is important. Agenda setting theory was proposed during the times when mass media observers and mass communication theorists were dissatisfied with the big effects theories of communication. McCombs and Shaw investigated presidential campaigns in 1968, 1972 and 1976. In the research done in 1968 they focused on two elements: awareness and information. Investigating

Agenda Setting Hypothesis 3 Rajesh Cheemalakonda the agenda-setting function of the mass media, they attempted to assess the relationship between what voters in one community said were important issues and the actual content of the media messages used during the campaign. McCombs and Shaw concluded that the mass media exerted a significant influence on what voters considered to be the major issues of the campaign. Core Assumptions and Statements y Core: Agenda-setting is the creation of public awareness and concern of salient issues by the news media. Two basis assumptions underlie most research on agenda-setting: (1) the press and the media do not reflect reality; they filter and shape it; (2) media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues. One of the most critical aspects in the concept of an agenda-setting role of mass communication is the time frame for this phenomenon. In addition, different media have different agenda-setting potential. Agenda-setting theory seems quite appropriate to help us understand the pervasive role of the media (for example on political communication systems). y Statement: Bernard Cohen (1963) stated: ³The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.´

Agenda Setting Hypothesis 4 Rajesh Cheemalakonda

Agenda-setting Source: McQuail & Windahl (1993)

Favorite Methods Content-analysis of media, interviews of audiences. Scope and Application Just as McCombs and Shaw expanded their focus, other researchers have extended investigations of agenda setting to issues including history, advertising, foreign, and medical news.

Example McCombs and Shaw focused on the two elements: awareness and information. Investigating the agenda-setting function of the mass media in the 1968 presidential campaign, they attempted to assess the relationship between what voters in one community said were important issues and the actual content of media messages used during the campaign. McCombs and Shaw concluded that the mass media exerted a significant influence on what voters considered to be the major issues of the campaign.

Agenda Setting Hypothesis 5 Rajesh Cheemalakonda
[Cited from, web site of University of Twente]

In 1992 Walter Lipmann produced his set of arguments on Agenda Setting Theory in Public Opinion. Few theories evolved in the later stages like agenda-building, the spiral of silence, media System Dependency Theory carried forward the idea of agenda setting. Strengths and weaknesses of the Theory Strengths o The theory has both macro and micro level explanations of the effects of media. o Is considered a dynamic theory. o This theory accounts for shifts in public opinion especially during election campaigns. o This theory also rises the important questions concerning the role and responsibility of media y Weaknesses o This theory proposes overall pessimistic view of media influence and average people. o The theory did not concentrate much on other silencing factors. o This theory ignores cultural and demographic differences in the silencing effects. o The power of public or individual communities in countering silence is nor focused on. Published Literature Walter Lipmann, in Public Opinion (1992), argued that the people do not deal directly with their environments as much as they respond to µpictures¶ in their heads. ³For a real


Agenda Setting Hypothesis 6 Rajesh Cheemalakonda environment is altogether too big, too complex, and too fleeting for direct acquaintance. We are not equipped to deal with so much subtlety, so much variety, so many permutations and combinations. He also concluded that average people just can¶t be trusted to make decisions based on these simplified pictures they come across in media. Average people are to be protected, and the important decisions have to be made by technocrats who use better models to guide their actions. Thus modern agenda-setting notions derive more or less directly from mass society perspective. And critics have noted this correction.
Foundations, ferment, and Future by Stanley J. Baran and Dennis K. Devis] [Cited from

Mass Communication Theory

Agenda setting fits under the criteria of scientific theories proposed by Chaffee and Berger in 1997. According to Chaffee and Berger¶s critic on the agenda setting theory


It has explanatory power because it explains why most people prioritize the same issues as important.


It has predictive power because it predicts that if people are exposed to the same media, they will feel the same issues are important.

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It is parsimonious because it isn¶t complex, and it is easy to understand. It can be proven false. If people aren¶t exposed to the same media, they won¶t feel the same issues are important.

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Its meta-theoretical assumptions are balanced on the scientific side. It is a springboard for further research. It has organizing power because it helps organize existing knowledge of media effects.
[Cited from]

Agenda Setting Hypothesis 7 Rajesh Cheemalakonda There is quite a large amount of research done on agenda setting done by many scholars. Some scholars argued whether it is possible to measure media agenda on internet environments. Based on the Dearing and Rogers¶s (1996) literature about traditional agenda-setting research, scholars split the concepts of public agenda, media agenda and policy agenda, and study possible correlations between them. According to the scholars¶ argument, If it makes sense to measure media agenda in traditional ways, such as counting the issues which appear on the FrontPage of a newspaper or on a TV news, or instance. I ask that because I see a shift between the ways of seeing the media agenda, as everything seems to be interconnected, including traditional media itself. It¶s not that media agenda does not play the role of setting the public agenda, but in an era of media convergence and growth of information channels, it makes more sense to understand the networks that an issue may produce through its distribution and consumption through several types of media outlet. In other words, there seems to be a paradigm shift from media agenda-setting to content agenda-setting, reinforced by the ideas of selective exposure and need for orientation. [Cited from]

Reviewing the theory Agenda setting theory is one of the widely accepted effects theories in the era of mass communication. Despite of few limitations the theory holds its position even today. Personally I observe the agenda setting phenomenon in every news source we consume. Almost all news channels or news paper have their own hidden agendas. Considering the situation in Andhra Pradesh. There are many news channels that are politically inclined towards one or the other political party. Every news organization has its own agenda. For example The Sakshi group that

Agenda Setting Hypothesis 8 Rajesh Cheemalakonda owns a regional news paper and television are owned by a political leader who is in race for CM position it is clearly evident through the programs that it carries certain kind of propaganda techniques. It gives more importance to the late YSR and his son YS. Jagan Mohan Reddy¶s activities. It has reached a peak stage in such a way that the brand loyal Sakshi news consumers may feel that Odarpu Yatra is the most important issue happening in the state. In the same way other news groups like Eenadu network that runs a set of T.V channels and news paper concentrated more on the scams in the present government. And that is how the EMAAR scam or Mining scams in Obulapuram gained more importance in media and subsequently in the public. But here the question is if audiences are exposed to pictures in different news channels and news papers that have different agendas does the frame work of agenda setting set in this phenomenon. One of the most common critic on agenda setting theory is that the theory does not fit in today¶s developed and highly sophisticated information society where audience have a wide of choice of news source. The revolution in Information and Communication technologies through the advent of social networking site has helped in creating a space for open debate of issues. Agenda setting theory lacks explanations for such questions. Agenda setting hypothesis limits itself to press and news channels and could not predict the effects in internet environments.