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Correlation between media and public ordering Paper

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Paper type: Essay , Subject: Communication

On the basis of your reading of book “Media effect” explain and elaborate the theory of agenda setting. Also highlight the agenda setting role of media with examples from Pakistani setting. Introduction: This theory puts forth the ability of the media to influence the significance of events in the public’s mind. The media set the agenda for the audience’s discussion and mentally order and organize their world. The theory is consistent with a “use and gratification” approach.

McCombs and Shaw assert that the agenda-setting function of the media causes the correlation between the media and public ordering of priorities. The people most affected by the media agenda are those who have a high need for orientation. Agenda Setting Theory: The agenda-setting theory is the theory that the news media have a large influence on audiences by their choice of what stories to consider newsworthy and how much prominence and space to give them. Agenda-setting theory’s main postulate is salience transfer.

Salience transfer is the ability of the news media to transfer issues of importance from their news media agendas to public agendas. “Through their day-by-day selection and display of the news, editors and news directors focus our attention and influence our perceptions of what are the most important issues of the day. This ability to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda has come to be called the agenda setting role of the news media. Foundation The media agenda is the set of issues addressed by media sources and the public agenda which are issues the public consider important.

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Agenda-setting theory was introduced in 1972 by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in their ground breaking study of the role of the media in 1968 presidential campaign in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The theory explains the correlation between the rate at which media cover a story and the extent that people think that this story is important. This correlation has been shown to occur repeatedly. In the dissatisfaction of the magic bullet theory, McCombs and Shaw introduced agenda setting theory in the Public Opinion Quarterly.

The theory was derived from their study that took place in Chapel Hill, NC, where the researchers surveyed 100 undecided voters during the 1968 presidential campaign on what they thought were key issues and measured that against the actual media content. The ranking of issues was almost identical with a correlation of . 97, and the conclusions matched their hypothesis that the mass media positioned the agenda for public opinion by emphasizing specific topics. Subsequent research on agenda-setting theory provided evidence for the cause-and-effect chain of influence being debated by critics in the field.

One particular study made leaps to prove the cause-effect relationship. The study was conducted by Yale researchers, Shanto Iyengar, Mark Peters, and Donald Kinder. The researchers had three groups of subjects fill out questionnaires about their own concerns and then each group watched different evening news programs, each of which emphasized a different issue. After watching the news for four days, the subjects again filled out questionnaires and the issues that they rated as most important matched the issues they viewed on the evening news.

The study demonstrated a cause-and-effect relationship between media agenda and public agenda. As of 2004, there were over 400 empirical studies examining the effects of Agenda Setting. The theory has evolved beyond the media’s influence on the public’s perceptions of issue salience to political candidates and corporate reputation. Functions The agenda-setting function has multiple components: ? Media agenda are issues discussed in the media, such as newspapers, television, and radio. ? Public agenda are issues discussed among members of the public. Policy agenda are issues that policy makers consider important, such as legislators. ? Corporate agenda are issues that big corporations consider important. These four agendas are interrelated. The two basic assumptions that underlie most research on agenda-setting are that the press and the media do not reflect reality, they filter and shape it, and the media concentration on a few issues and subjects leads the public to perceive those issues as more important than other issues. Levels of agenda setting ? The first-level agenda setting is most traditionally studied by researchers.

Simply put, the focus is/was on major issues/objects and the transfer of the salience of those objects/issues. From these broad issues, agenda setting evolved to look not only at the major issues/objects, but to attributes of those issues. ? In second-level agenda setting, the news media focuses on the characteristics of the objects or issues. This transfer of attribute salience is considered second-level effects or attribute agenda-setting. “The second dimension refers to the transmission of attribute salience to the minds of the public.

More specifically, each object has numerous attributes, or characteristics and properties that fill out the picture of that particular object. As certain perspectives and frames are employed in news coverage, they can draw public attention to certain attributes and away from others. ” In this level the media suggest how the people should think about the issue. There are two types of attributes: cognitive (sustentative, or topics) and affective (evaluative, or positive, negative, neutral). Additionally, there are several theoretical concepts that fall under the umbrella of attribute agenda setting.

Some of these include:  priming, gate keeping (which happens in both level) of primary importance, the concept of framing. 1. Priming: There are perspectives as to what priming actually is, but the primary concept is such: “According to the priming theory, news media exposure presumably causes the activation of related knowledge, which is more likely to be retrieved and used in later judgments because it is more accessible in memory and comes to mind spontaneously and effortlessly. ” Iyengar and Kinder, define priming as “changes in standards that people use to make political evaluations. 2. Gate-keeping: The concept of gate-keeping attempts to answer the question of who sets the news media agenda? Mccombs, states that we need to look at “three key elements: major sources who provide information for news stories, other news organizations, and journalisms norms and traditions. ” Mccombs notes that “journalists validate their sense of news by observing and the work of their colleagues. Local newspapers and televisions stations note the news agenda offered each day by their direct competitors for local attention.

Finding stories that are newsworthy can be difficult, but most journalists look for these characteristics throughout the information they collect. These generally are: impact, proximity,timeliness, prominence, importance, conflict, contradiction, contrast, novelty, and human interest. 3. Framing: Although many scholars have differing opinions of what exactly framing is, Mccombs defines it as, “the selection of – and emphasis upon – particular attributes for the news media agenda when talking about an object (the fact of cutting and trimming news stories in order to filter it and shape it as the sender wish) .

In other words, it is not just is said in news reports, but how they are characterized and presented. It is through this unique characterization/portrayal of issues/objects that communicates certain meanings to audiences apart from just stating facts and figures Usage: The theory is used in political advertising, political campaigns and debates, business news and corporate reputation, business influence on federal policy, legal systems, trials, role of groups, audience control, public opinion, and public relations.

Strengths and weaknesses of theory It has an explanatory power because it explains why most people prioritize the same issues as important. It also has predictive power because it predicts that if people are exposed to the same media, they will feel the same issues are important. Its meta-theoretical assumptions are balanced on the scientific side and it lays groundwork for further research. There are also limitations, such as news media users may not be as ideal as the theory assumes.

People may not be well-informed, deeply engaged in public affairs, thoughtful and skeptical. Instead, they may pay only casual and intermittent attention to public affairs and remain ignorant of the details. For people who have made up their minds, the effect is weakened. Another limitation is that there is limited research in the realm of non-traditional forms of news media (i. e. Social Media, Blogs, etc… ) and it’s Agenda Setting Role. Q-2Describe in detail the major features and concepts of the Cultivation effects hypothesis?

Compare research of this tradition with traditional television effects research. Cultivation theory: Cultivation theory in its most basic form, then, suggests that exposure to television, over time, subtly “cultivates” viewers’ perceptions of reality. This cultivation can have an impact even on light viewers of TV, because the impact on heavy viewers has an impact on our entire culture. Gerbner and Gross (1976) say “television is a medium of the socialization of most people into standardized roles and behaviors.

Cultivation Effects Hypothesis: Stated most simply, the central hypothesis explored in cultivation research is that those who spend more time watching television are more likely to perceive the real world in ways that reflect the most common and recurrent messages of the television world, compared with people who watch less television, but are otherwise comparable in terms of important demographic characteristics (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, Signorielli, & Shanahan, 2002). Gerbner et al. 1986) go on to argue the impact of television on its viewers is not unidirectional, that the “use of the term cultivation for television’s contribution to conception of social reality… (Does not) necessarily imply a one-way, monolithic process. The effects of a pervasive medium upon the composition and structure of the symbolic environment is subtle, complex, and intermingled with other influences. This perspective, therefore, assumes an interaction between the medium and its publics. Cultivation Theory (George Gerbner, 1960’s) is a top down, linear, closed communication model.

It regards audiences as passive, presenting ideas to society as a mass with meaning open to little or no interpretation. The ideas presented to a passive audience are often accepted, therefore influencing large groups into conforming behind ideas, meaning that the media exerts a significant influence over audiences. This audience is seen as very vulnerable and easily manipulated. Cultivation Theory looks at media as having a long term passive effect on audiences, which starts off small at first but has a compound effect, an example of this is body image and the bombardment of images.

An advantage of this theory is that it is easy to apply to a wide range of texts and to a wide range of audience members, a disadvantage however is that it doesn’t look at the background, ethnicity, gender etc. of audiences. In 1968 Gerbner conducted a survey to demonstrate this theory. From his results he placed television viewers into three categories;
• Light viewers (less than 2 hours a day)
• Medium viewers (2–4 hours a day)
• Heavy viewers (more than 4 hours a day)

He found that heavy viewers held beliefs and opinions similar to those portrayed on television rather than the real world which demonstrates the compound effect of media influence. An advantage to this study is that surveys are able to ask specific detailed questions and can be applied over different demographic groups. Disadvantages to this study is that survey questions can be interpreted incorrectly resulting in inaccurate answers and that participants of the survey may or may not be doing the survey voluntarily which could influence how they respond to the survey and the type of people being surveyed.

Gerbner created the cultivation theory as one part of a three part research strategy, called Cultural Indicators. The concept of a cultural “indicator” was developed by Gerbner in order to be a more common idea of a social indicator. The first part of this strategy is known as the institutional process analysis. This investigates how the flow of media messages is produced and managed, how decisions are made, and how media organizations function. The second part of this strategy is known as message system analysis, which has been used since 1967 to track the most stable and recurrent images in media content.

This is in terms of violence, race & ethnicity, gender, and occupation. The final part of the research study is the cultivation analysis. METHODOLOGY The first stage in cultivation analysis is a careful study of TV content in order to identify predominant themes and messages. Since 1967, Gerbner and his colleagues have been meticulously analyzing sample weeks of prime time and day time TV programming. Television’s world is populated by a preponderance of males. Moreover, in portraying occupations TV over emphasizes the professions and over represents the proportion of workers engaged in law enforcement and the detection of crime.

Lastly the TV world is a violent one. Step two examines what viewers absorb from heavy exposure to the world of TV. Respondents are presented with questions concerning social reality and are asked to check one of two possible answers. One of these answers (the TV answers) is more inline with the way things are portrayed on TV; the other (the real world answer) more closely resembles situations in actual life. RESEARCH FINDINGS Most findings suggest that among some people TV is cultivating distorted perceptions of the real world.

Results from a national survey of adult viewers indicate that cultivation is not limited to children. In this survey heavy TV viewers evidently felt that TV violence and crime presented an accurate depiction of reality, since they also were more fearful of walking alone at night and were more likely to have bought a dog or to have put locks on windows and doors than were light TV viewers. Research has shown that content other than crime and violence might also demonstrate a cultivate effect.

One study (1981) found that heavy soap opera viewers were more likely than light viewers to over estimate the number of real life married people who had affairs or who had been divorced and the number of women who had abortions. Not all researchers have accepted the cultivation hypothesis. In particular, Hughes (1980) and Hirsch (1980) reanalyzed the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) data using simultaneous rather than individual controls for demographic variables, and they were unable to replicate Gerbner’s findings.

Gerbner responded by introducing resonance and mainstreaming, two new concepts to help explain inconsistencies in the results (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1986). These concepts take account of the fact that heavy TV viewing has different outcomes for different social groups. Resonance: When the media reinforce what is seen in real life, thus giving an audience member a “double dose,” the resulting increase in the cultivation effect is attributed to resonance. Mainstreaming is a leveling effect.

Gerbner says mainstreaming occurs when heavy viewing leads to a convergence of outlooks across groups. The addition of mainstreaming and resonance to cultivation theory is a substantial modification of the theory. The theory no longer claims uniform, across the board effects of Television on all heavy viewers. It now claims that TV interacts with other variables in ways such that television viewing will have strong effects on some subgroups of persons and not on others. COMPARISON OF CULTIVATION EFFECTS HYPOTHESIS WITH TRADITIONAL T. V EFFECTS RESEARCH

Traditional effects research is based on evaluating specific informational, educational, political, or marketing efforts in terms selective exposure and measurable differences between those exposed and others. Scholars steeped in those traditions find it difficult to accept the emphasis of cultivation analysis on total immersion rather than selective viewing and on the spread of stable similarities of outlook rather than on the remaining sources of cultural differentiation and change. Cultivation theory is based on the results of research findings a persistent and persuasive pull of the television.

Mainstream on a great variety of conceptual currents and counter currents. The focus on broad communalities of perspectives among heavy viewers of otherwise varied backgrounds requires a theoretical and methodological approach different from traditional media effects research and appropriate to the distinct dynamics of TV. Cultivation analysis is not a substitute for but a complement to traditional approaches to media effects. Traditional research is concerned with change rather than stability and with processes more applicable to media that inter a person’s life at latter stages (with mobility, literacy, etc. ) and more selectively.

Neither the “before and after exposure” model, nor the notion of “predispositions” as intervening variables. So important and traditional effects studies, apply in the context of cultivation analysis. TV enters life in infancy; there is no “before exposure” condition. TV plays a role in the formation of those very “predispositions” that later intervene (and often resist) other influences and attempts at persuasion. Cultivation analysis concentrates on the enduring and common consequences of growing up and living with TV. Those are the stable, resistant, and widely shared assumptions, images, and conceptions expressing the institutional haracteristics and interests of the medium itself. Q-3Explain the concepts of Framing and Priming with examples? Also briefly describe Mainstreaming effects. Priming and Framing: “Priming” (mass media research), often cited next to “Framing” and Agenda-setting theory, is a cognitive process, in which media information (Primes) increases temporarily the accessibility of knowledge units in the memory of an individual, which makes it more likely that these knowledge units are used in the reception, interpretation and judgment for the following external information. Framing

Although many scholars have differing opinions of what exactly framing is, Mccombs defines it as, “the selection of – and emphasis upon – particular attributes for the news media agenda when talking about an object (the fact of cutting and trimming news stories in order to filter it and shape it as the sender wish) . In turn, as we know from attribute agenda setting, people who frame objects, placing various degrees of emphasis on the attributes of persons, public issues or other objects when they think or talk about them. ” In other words, it is not just is said in news reports, but how they are characterized and presented.

It is through this unique characterization/portrayal of issues/objects that communicates certain meanings to audiences apart from just stating facts and figures; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Entman, 1993 not only defines frames as “involving selection and salience. To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation for the item described.   But also goes on to describe these four functions: 1) Defining problems-determining what a causal agent is doing with what costs and benefits, usually measured in terms of common cultural values; 2) Diagnosing causes-identifying the forces creating the problem; 3) Making moral judgments-evaluate causal agents and their effects; and 4) Suggesting remedies-offering and justifying treatments for the problems and predict their likely effects.

It is through these four functions that the news media can highlight/characterize certain issues/candidates/problems/attributes and/or choose to ignore others. Furthermore, many other defined news media framing as “the central organizing idea for news content that supplies a context and suggests what the issue is through the use of selection, emphasis, exclusion and elaboration. ” When the news media supply the context, select what to emphasize or exclude information, they show us how to think about an object/issue/candidate.

In order for this to be effective the audience must be able to internalize the information and “individual’s therefore apply interpretive schemas or “primary frameworks” Priming: There are perspectives as to what priming actually is, but the primary concept is such: “According to the priming theory, news media exposure presumably causes the activation of related knowledge, which is more likely to be retrieved and used in later judgments because it is more accessible in memory and comes to mind spontaneously and effortlessly. , it’s the actual act of link two different elements in order to generate a general known idea. The concept of priming is supported by the accessibility bias argument as well as the principle of resonance as some attributes may resonate longer with individuals than others. Iyengar and Kinder, define priming as “changes in standards that people use to make political evaluations. ” The premise of political priming is that public evaluations of political leaders are made on the basis of issues that are on the top of citizens’ mind.

This study investigated the impact of a national referendum campaign about a European integration issue on the evaluation of the incumbent government, the Prime Minister as well opposition leaders. Drawing on a content analysis of news media and a two-wave panel survey, the results showed that as the topic of the referendum (the introduction of the euro) became more visible in the media during the campaign, the importance of the euro issue for formulating general evaluations of political leaders increased. The incumbent government that was seen to handle the referendum poorly was penalized by the referendum.

Exposure to news media outlets that covered the referendum extensively and offered negative evaluations of political leaders boosted the decline in overall performance rating of political leaders for politically less involved respondents. These results stress the necessity of considering the campaign and the specific content of the media to understand fluctuations in public opinion during a referendum campaign. MAINSTREAMING EFFECTS: Gerbner and his colleagues define mainstreaming as “the sharing of that commonality among heavy viewers in those demographic groups whose light viewers hold divergent views” (Gerbner et al. , 1980, p. 15).

Gerbner and his associates look for mainstreaming effects by selecting groups of light viewers that differ strongly in their answers to a particular question (such as the estimate of the proportion of law enforcement officers in the total workforce). They then look at the heavy viewers in those same groups. If the variation in the answers of the heavy viewers is significantly smaller than the variation in the answers of the light viewers, the researchers speak of a mainstreaming effect of television, or “a relative homogenization, an absorption of divergent views, and a convergence of disparate viewers” (Morgan & Signorielli, 1990, p. 3). Related to acts of violence depicted in programming, viewers are de-sensitized to the violence and become less empathetic to the suffering of others. Likewise studies of other social issues indicate that television cultivates assumptions we label stereotypes. Thus notions of gender roles are reinforced by television content when viewers see women in the kitchen and men in the workplace. An interesting result of mainstreaming is that heavy viewers tend to label themselves as “moderate” instead of “liberal” or “conservative,” despite the actual positions they take on a number of political issues. Mainstream does not mean ‘middle of the road’” (Gerbner et al. , 2002, p. 57). Mainstreaming has influenced the heavy viewer to consider himself as conforming to the dominant viewpoint rather than be counted among those who are outside of the norm. Q-4: What do you understand by social Cognitive theory of mass communication? Give examples from your own society. Mass communication is something we’re all affected by in one way, or another. Directly, or indirectly, information transmitted by today’s communication mediums shape and directs a society’s expectations and behaviors.

The impacts of mass communication exert a cognitive effect on us as individuals, and as a social group. The cognitive theory examines how repeated exposure to the media changes human behavior. Values:
• Values–both personal and societal–are the focus within the cognitive theory of mass communication. The methods used to relay information are based on how values are formed, structured and directed within our minds. Research within psychology, marketing and communications all combine to give us an understanding of how media interacts with a society’s value system.

Based on structured methods that work on values, attitudes, emotions and behavior, the effects of mass communication can be pre-determined, and put to use. Features:
• A person’s value system is built on pre-learned patterns of how to identify people and things in her environment, and how to interact with them. Patterns that carry an emotional overtone have the most impact on a person’s value system. Cognitive theory refers to these patterns as Exemplars. These are the building blocks that make up a value system. Exemplars represent accumulated information blocks within a person’s psychological make-up.

Mass communication mediums like television and newspapers affect us on a daily basis. Cognitive theory views the information passed along through these sources as seeded with exemplars. Over a period of years, or decades, the media’s portrayal of exemplars becomes a means by which value systems can be changed. Function:
•  Media advertisers make use of exemplars within their advertising campaigns. Cognitive theory calls this the Priming method. Based on what’s called a Landscape Model, advertisers can determine where best to promote a product within a television show, a newspaper, or a movie.

Product placement within the framework of a story is based on where the product will most impact the viewers. Social cognitive theory is a subcategory of cognitive theory that focuses on the effects that others have on our behavior. It is a form of learning theory, but differs from other learning theories such as behaviorism in several important ways. Tenets of Social Cognitive Theory: Expert opinions differ on exactly what separates social cognitive theory from the more general social learning theory. In general, however, these principles can be used to define social cognitive theory. . People learn by observing others, a process known as vicarious learning, not only through their own direct experiences. 2. Although learning can modify behavior, people do not always apply what they have learned. Individual choice is based on perceived or actual consequences of behavior. 3. People are more likely to follow the behaviors modeled by someone with whom they can identify. The more perceived commonalities and/or emotional attachments between the observer and the model, the more likely the observer will learn from the model. 4.

The degree of self-efficacy that a learner possesses directly affects his or her ability to learn. Self-efficacy is a fundamental belief in one’s ability to achieve a goal. If you believe that you can learn new behaviors, you will be much more successful in doing so. Social Cognitive Theory in Daily Life: Social cognitive theory is frequently used in advertising. Commercials are carefully targeted toward particular demographic groups. Each element of the commercial, from the actors to the background music, is chosen to help that demographic identify with the product.

Notice how different the commercials shown during Saturday morning cartoons are from those shown during the evening news or a late-night movie. And who hasn’t at one time or another realized the power of peer pressure? We all want to belong, and so we tend to change our behaviors to fit in with whatever group we most strongly identify with. Although we often think of peer pressure as solely a teen phenomenon, how many of us drive a particular car, live in a specific neighborhood, or have our hair done at a certain salon simply because it is expected of someone in our social class or peer group?

Social cognitive theory is a learning theory based on the ideas that people learn by watching what others do and that human thought processes are central to understanding personality. While social cognitists agree that there is a fair amount of influence on development generated by learned behavior displayed in the environment in which one grows up, they believe that the individual person (and therefore cognition) is just as important in determining moral development.

People learn by observing others, with the environment, behavior, and cognition all as the chief factors in influencing development. These three factors are not static or independent; rather, they are all reciprocal. For example, each behavior witnessed can change a person’s way of thinking (cognition). Similarly, the environment one is raised in may influence later behaviors, just as a father’s mindset (also cognition) will determine the environment in which his children are raised.

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