What is the major social problem in the news today? Who made it so important? Social issues that are widely recognized on the media agenda often demand attention on the public agenda, and in turn move quickly up the policy agenda, creating policy changes. Based on research of contemporary social issues that have hit the headlines - including the war on drugs, drink-driving, the Exxon Valdez oil spillage, AIDS and the Ethiopian famine - this book provides important theoretical and practical insights into the agenda-setting process and its role in effecting social change.

Media Agenda Studies

Media agenda studies

The mass media confer status on public issues, persons, organizations and social movements.

Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Robert K. Merton (1948/1964, p. 101)

As the above quotation from Lazarsfeld and Merton states, the media confer attention on both people and issues. Communication scholars since 1948 have given most attention to status conferred by the media to people. For example, introductory textbooks in mass communication frequently provide the example of how appearing on the cover of Time magazine confers star status on an individual. But the other status-conferral function of the media, calling attention to an issue, is much more important in understanding how American democracy works. This can happen in roundabout ways. For example, in November 1995, CBS lawyers prohibited Mike Wallace ...

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