How, and to what extent, do the media shape the public agenda? What is the question about? I feel as though the question is asking two things; 1, how, as in the models used to illustrate the media and its shaping of the public agenda. And 2, to what extent, through the barriers and limits of the public and also government can the media do this. I will need to explore the different models that highlight this idea, such as the issue-attention cycle, issue-attention theory, and several other models explaining how agendas are set.
I will also need to discover the important factors that the media use to shape how these ideas are brought across to the public which then create the public agenda. These factors that allow this to happen are priming and framing. What is my main argument? My main argument for this essay is that the media strongly mould and manipulate us (the public’s) opinions, views and ideas of what is, and isn’t, important in our lives and what we are exposed to.
I will also explain that the models and theories previously mentioned illustrate the steps and levels that this occurs at. I think it is also important to mention framing and priming, and their impact on agenda setting. Framing and priming are the vessel that the media manipulates to shape public agenda, and will be my main idea that is carried throughout my essay, as I believe these are the two main factors that are the ‘how’ in the process of media shaping public agenda.
What is the outline of my essay? For my introduction I will define what public agenda is, and explain how the media plays such an integral part in not only our personal opinions, but the views and values of the public as a whole. I will then explain several of the agenda-setting theories and models, such as McCombs, McCombs and Shaw’s, Down’s and Rochefort and Cobb’s creations. After discussing these models, I will introduce priming and framing.
I will define these ideas and give key examples of how these factors apply in everyday life. Priming and framing will be the main body of my essay, and I will explain the extent to which they affect how the media shape and influence public agenda. I will conclude my essay by summarising how the different models of agenda-setting, along with priming and framing, allow the media to influence the public agenda, and the limitations placed upon this.
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