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Agenda setting is the media’s ability to tell audiences what to think about, rather than telling them what to think. Editors and other journalists make decisions about what stories get covered and what stories don’t get covered, thereby identifying what matters. Choosing some topics over others has the potential to influence audience members to see those topics as having more significance than others.

This entry reviews what came before agenda setting, the articulation of the agenda setting concept, how researchers have added to and altered the concept, as well as criticism of agenda setting and the role of agenda setting in the modern media environment.

Historical Background

Historians acknowledge the role of journalism in facilitating the very development of the United States in the 19th century, primarily by ...

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