Agenda setting theory (Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw)

Category: News, Theories
Last Updated: 14 Apr 2021
Essay type: Process
Pages: 2 Views: 420

Media influence affects the order of presentation in news reports about news events, issues in the public mind. More importance to a news-more importance attributed by audience. Media Priorities It says what people should think about and how people should think about. These are the levels of agenda setting theory:

  • First Level: Mostly studied by researchers, media uses objects or issues to influence the people what people should think about.
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  • Second level: 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 concept associated with the agenda setting theory is gate keeping. Gate keeping controls over the selection of content discussed in the media; Public cares mostly about the product of a media gate keeping. 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 every day the particular news is carried as a heading or covered every day for months.

Headlines, Special news features, discussions, expert opinions are used. Media primes news by repeating the news and giving it more importance E. g. Nuclear deal.

Framing is a process of selective control. Two Meanings

  • Way in which news content is typically shaped and contextualized within same frame of reference.
  • Audience adopts the frames of reference and to see the world in a similar way. It is how people attach importance to news and perceive it context within which an issue is viewed.

Framing talks about how people attach importance to certain news 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.

Criticisms of Agenda setting theory is

  • Media users not ideal, people may not pay attention to details.
  • Effect is weakened for people who have made up their mind.
  • Media can’t create problems. They can only alter the awareness, Priority etc.

Cite this Page

Agenda setting theory (Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw). (2017, Jul 16). Retrieved from

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