Today’s lecture was all about agenda setting and how the media has the power to construct reality. Dr Redman took us through the history of agenda setting, beginning in the 1920’s. Agenda setting has continued to develop and change over time; I found the history of 1930’s particularly interesting because of its reference to Hitler’s propaganda. Hitler’s propaganda was so powerful that it set the agenda for the Holocaust and World War II.
There are four different types of agenda setting and each of them are inter related. There is public, policy, corporate and media agenda setting.
Public Agenda Setting - the set of topics that members of the public perceive as important
Policy – issues that decision makers think are salient
Corporate – issues that big businesses and corporations think are important
Media – issues discussed in the media
People argue that the mass media do not merely reflect and report reality, but filter and shape it. Due to the fact that news is so constant, and there is always so much of it, journalists obviously need to filter news. They filter the news in relation to news values and what is important at the time. One of the important news values is locality; obviously the audience wants to read news that is relevant to them and where they live. This is something that has major influence over what news is published and where.
Dr Redman talked about the ‘bandwagon effect’. The bandwagon effect refers to when a news story goes viral on the internet, in the 21st century this is quite a common occurrence. A perfect example is KONY. With the way people use the internet at the moment it is so easy for a news topic to go viral in minutes and reach people all over the world. Mass media outlets and other advertising companies use this tendency to their advantage, to spread news and other trends quickly. As the internet and other social media outlets continue to expand and become even more popular and accessible throughout the world we will only see the bandwagon effect become more popular and common.
I found what Dr Redman said about the development of the 24 hour news cycle very interesting. In the 21st century news has developed into a constant news cycle that we have access to 24 hours a day. The way news works in the 21st century is so different from the way it used to work. The morning paper used to set the agenda for the day, and that agenda would not change until the next paper was released the following morning. Now prime time is all the time, it a story breaks in the middle of the day it will be published and we will instantly have access to that story online.
The media do play a large role in constructing reality, as the medias concentration on particular issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues. Due to the fact that the news is so constant, and there is always so much of it, the news does need to stay focussed so we are reading what is most important.