Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Is Media Coverage Shifting Our Opinions?

“The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media” by Maxwell E. McCombs explains a very interesting topic that has always and will always pertain to the society every year. In a short explanation, McComb illustrates how agenda-setting, an idea that the media influences the audience’s opinion on how important a topic is, is an important theory to think about. McComb explains that what people believe is the most important topic one year can change the next year depending on how much news coverage it gets. Agenda-setting is a great theory to examine, due to the fact that we are currently in a presidential campaign.

Much of the media coverage today is about the 2012 Presidential Campaign between Romney and Obama. Media outlets such as CNN, ABC, and The Huffington Post are presenting audiences with different topics about the candidates and what major political issues each party is emphasizing on. However, the opinions of what topics are most important for the country are always changing. Today, Professor Retzinger showed the class great examples on how every year the importance of certain topics change. In the CBS News/New York Times Poll of 2011, it showed that people believed that the most important problem that the country was facing was the economy/jobs. The second most important issue was budget deficit/national debt. However, this year in 2012, the poll showed that people now had a different opinion of what they believed was an important issue. Health care now took the spot of deficit/national debt in being the second most important issue of the country. Why is it that people now believe that health care is a more important issue than other topics?

I believe that the topic of health care is currently perceived to be an important issue due to the fact that we are in the midst of an election, and it is a huge topic that President Obama is emphasizing on in his campaign. Since media outlets such as TV, newspapers, and newsmagazines are the primary source of covering national political information, the media can easily influence what topic they want us to look at most. This way the media is telling us what to think about, the idea of agenda-setting.

Ultimately, I could not agree more with McComb’s theory of agenda-setting. Media outlets do play a huge role in influencing our opinions. It feels like yesterday when it seemed like all the media was covering was news about Britney Spears and how she shaved her head. That is all the audience turned their attention to, and with no surprise, it was the topic of conversation when I went to school the next day. 

1 comment:

  1. Shirin, your reference to Britney Spears makes me wonder about this thing we keep calling "the media," as if it was one, monolithic entity and not a ramshackle house of many rooms, additions, and forgotten spaces. For weeks, the media we discussed were entertainment oriented, and if Adorno was to be believed, popular culture forms have a disproportionate effect on our daily lives. Then there are these other articles, where the media really becomes a political body, something of the old journalism model. Which to believe? Of course, they coexist, but it's hard to keep both in the brain at the same time.