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Friday, March 7, 2014

Agenda Setting and Gatekeeping


One of the key concepts in mass communication is this notion of agenda setting, which, simply defined, is that the media tells you not what to think but what to think about.  And so if they decide that the big story is going to be the environment, and there's a big environment rally, and they cover it, that's typically going to be on the agenda.  Sometimes this can get silly.  When the movie Jaws was very popular in the mid-1970s, there were lots of stories on the agenda about sharks.  And they were appearing in landlocked, midwestern newspapers.  Everybody was
Harvey Nagler - Vice President, CBS News, Radio
In Murrow's time, back in the fifties, there were three major media companies and there were a number of elite newspapers, and those, the people who worked at those companies basically set the agenda for the American public. They set the agenda for what was going to be discussed in the newspapers, and what was going to be discussed and viewed on the television and radio stations. Today, everybody is a gatekeeper, everybody now decides what the agenda of the American public is going to be. No longer is it just the few media companies or the newspapers that do that, so it's a very different world with all sorts of information out there.
Mickey Huff - Project Censored
That's not a real critique, that's a deflection away from the responsibility that major media entities have in a democratic society. It's a complete deflection saying that like, well, now there are so many diverse views, CBS doesn't have to worry about it anymore. How many videos are on YouTube? How many Google videos are there, how many, versus how many people get onto 60 Minutes? That's a pretty directed program, it's got a guaranteed viewership. They set the agenda. It's not just anybody equally sets the agenda. Yeah, I set the agenda in my bedroom with my Mac cam or whatever I've got and I throw myself up on the Internet and three people watch it. How is that at all the same?
Amy Goodman - Host, Democracy Now!
The media ends up being in this country a mouthpiece for those in power, when the power of the media should be exactly the opposite: bringing to the fore the voices of those who are not usually heard, which is the majority of people in this country and around the world.
Jamal Dajani - Producer, Link TV
We go on reporting the Anna Nicole Smith story for six months when everyday we have a couple of hundred people dying in Iraq, Afghanistan and there is a conflict going on between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Mickey Huff
The Iraq War vets come home to testify the Winter Soldier story, complete blackout in the corporate media. Wasn't covered by any in the corporate press at all, where veterans from the Iraqi war came back to Congress and testified about what was going on there. You'd think that Wolf Blitzer would take time away from Anna Nicole Smith and find out about that.
Robin Sloan - Vice President of Strategy, Current TV
It has been true that generally the top five broadcast networks, the Associated Press, the New York Times, collectively, are the ones that set the news agenda. They, in deciding what goes on the front page or what goes across the AP wire, generally decide what it is that's important today, what it is that we're talking about. I think with the Internet and just the rise of many, many more voices, we've actually seen an erosion of that sort of centralized agenda-setting power, and I think that's probably a good thing. One of the things that Current tries to do very consciously is bring stories that people aren't talking about back into the conversation, and we do it not by sitting in some editor's conference room and just deciding what we think people should be talking about today, we do it by listening to our audience. And I actually think that's the direction that things are going. I think there is always going to be a role for a smart editor to tell you what you should be paying attention to today, but more and more that judgment is going to come from lots of people looking at lots of things and then kind of collectively deciding, this is what's important, this is what we should be talking about.

Click here for access to the video

  • Description:In this video, experts discuss how the media exerts influence over what's considered important in public discourse.

  • Featured Writer(s):
    Sloan, Robin
    Nagler, Harvey
    Huff, Mickey
    Goodman, Amy
    Dajani, Jamal
    Campbell, Richard

1 comment:

Jason S. said...

I think it is for the best that more option exist for people to hear and say things. When only an elite few have any influence over what is to be news, you can get a very narrow view. This way offers more access for the conflicting veiw points to emerge. I won't deny that majority of what is out there is garbage, but occasionally you may find a gem.