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Volume I, Issue II (Autumn 2008)

AGENDA SETTING ROLE OF MASS MEDIA

Saqib Riaz

ABSTRACT

Agenda setting theory is basically a theory of strong media effects which suggests that with the passage of time the media agenda becomes the public agenda. This paper presents theoretical aspects of agenda setting theory in a global perspective. The paper gives an over view of a number of research studies conducted in different parts of the world to investigate the agenda setting role of mass media. On the basis of the worldwide research, it has been found that the media can play a strong role in public agenda setting; therefore media should play a responsible role in the society .

INTRODUCTION

We are living in a world where millions of events are taking place simultaneously. Media organizations and institutions have employed thousands of people to observe those events and report them. The news media tell us which issues are important and which ones are not. We have never seen the war situations of Afghanistan , Iraq , Palestine and Kashmir with our own eyes. Even then we have pictures of these disputed areas in our minds. The media's daily reports inform us about the latest events and changes taking place in the world beyond our reach. As a result of this phenomenon, most of our perceptions about the world are a second-hand reality created by the media organizations. There is no assurance and no guarantee that this reality is an accurate picture of the world.

Media organizations do not just passively broadcast information repeating the words of the official sources or conveying exactly the incidents of an event. They also do not select or reject the day's news in proportion to reality. Through their selection and display of the news stories, the reporters and the editors focus their attention and influence the public's perceptions of what are the most important issues of the day. Our pictures of the world are shaped and refined in the way journalists frame their news stories. This function of media is called the agenda-setting function of media (McCombs 2002).

Agenda Setting is one of the most important media theories of the present times. The concept of agenda setting took its name from the idea that the mass media have the ability to carry the salience of items on their news agendas and then transfer it to the public agenda. Usually journalists deal with the news in several important ways. First of all, they decide which news to cover and which to ignore. Then they assess all of these available reports. In the words of McCombs (2002), in a typical daily newspaper, over 75 percent of the potential news of the day is rejected and never transmitted to the audience (p.4). Newspapers don't have enough space to print each and everything that is available. There is no way other than choices. These are the first steps in gate-keeping routine. But the news items that pass through the gate of the media organizations do not receive equal treatment when presented to the audience. Some news stories are published in a greater length and prominently displayed. Others receive only brief attention. Newspapers very clearly state the journalistic salience of an item through its page placement, headline and length etc.

Agenda setting claims that audiences obtain this salience of the issues from the news media, incorporating similar sets of priorities into their own agendas. Agenda setting describes the transmission of these saliencies as one of the most important aspects of mass communication. The news media not only inform us about the world at large, giving us the major elements for our pictures of the world, they also influence the prominence of those elements in these pictures.

SELECTIVITY IN MEDIA

Today, we are living in a global village where the mass media are an important source of information about what is going on in the world. This is an obvious fact that the news media organizations seem more interested in some events than in others. This is widely understood and accepted that the material presented by the media organizations is selective. That selectivity is a result of its limited capacity to provide total surveillance. Some factors are imposed on the people who do the gate-keeping (reporters and editors), and some financial limitations and economic pressures are also placed on the media because they must survive as profit making commercial organizations. These factors play a vital role to decide which stories to select, follow up, emphasize, interpret and manipulate in particular and desired ways.

According to the agenda-setting theory, because of the fact of paying attention to some issues and neglecting and ignoring some others, the mass media will have an effect on public opinion. People will be inclined to know about those issues and things, which are highlighted by the mass media and they adopt the order of priority assigned to different issues. This theory primarily deals with learning and not with attitude or opinion change. Some of the empirical studies of mass communication had confirmed that the most expected effects to occur would be on matters of information. Usually, people learn what the issues are and how these are ordered in importance in the media agenda.

ACTIVE ROLE OF MASS MEDIA

News media organizations are not just passive transmitters of information, repeating the words of official sources or conveying exactly the events in a way as they happened. Through their daily selection and presentation of the news, editors and reporters focus attention of the public's perceptions about the most important issues of the day. Hence, our attention is further focused and our pictures of the world are shaped and reproduced by the way journalists frame their news stories.

BEGINNING OF THE AGENDA SETTING RESEARCH

It was Lippmann's theory that the mass media create our pictures of the world. However, he understood that the pictures provided by the media were often incomplete and unclear. We can see only reflections of reality (not reality itself) in the news media. Yet, those reflections provide the basis for our pictures (Lippman, 1922).

After a long period of four decades, Bernard Cohen presented his idea in 1963 by saying: “Press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling readers what to think about” (pp.232-233).

The notion that the news media influence the “pictures in our heads” was put to an empirical test in 1972. Two researchers Maxwell McCombs & Donald Shaw from the University of North Carolina thought whether the topics selected by the news media to represent the world outside limited the kinds of events that people used to interpret the world. They also thought whether the public's perception of reality depended on the topics highlighted by the news media or not (McComb & Shaw, 1972).

During the 1968 presidential election of the USA , McCombs and Shaw conducted the first test of Lippmann's theory in Chapel Hill , NC . At that time, the existing theory was that the mass media had only limited effects on the public. Earlier studies conducted by some scholars stated that exposure to campaign information had little influence on the public's voting behaviors (Lazarsfeld. Berelson, & Gaudet, 1948; Berelson, Lazarsfeld, & McPhee, 1954). According to this limited effects model, voters relied on social groups and their perceptions to guide their voting decisions. The news media only supported and to some extent reinforced voters' preference for some particular politician or party. Joseph Klapper (1960) summarized his research in the words that “mass communication ordinarily does not serve as a necessary and sufficient cause of audience effects, but rather functions among and through a nexus of mediating functions and influences” (p.8).

It was a tremendous beginning of a new mass communications theory, which can be divided into two aspects. The first aspect relates to the transmission of issue or object salience from the media agenda to the public agenda. The second aspect tells us about the news media's role in framing those issues and objects in the minds of people.

McCombs and Shaw (1972) tested the notion that the mass media influence public perception about the important issues of the day through their daily selection and display of the news in their news bulletin etc. Especially, they believed that with the passage of time the priority issues of the news media organizations would become the priority issues of the public. The media audience can easily feel the priorities of the news agenda. In newspapers the size of the headlines, the length of the news story, and the page placement where the story appears indicate the prominence of the news story. In television broadcasts the position of an item in the newscast and the length of the story can determine its importance. These signals help the audience in making their priorities among a small number of issues selected for attention in the daily news broadcasts and outlets.

While conducting their research during the 1968 Chapel Hill study, McCombs and Shaw focused their attention on the most important problem facing the country. It was an open-ended question, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” They also asked another question “What are you most concerned about these days? That is what are the two or three main things which you think the government should concentrate on doing something about?” (p.178). The researchers then made ranking order of the issues according to the percentage of voters stating the position of each issue.

A number of other researches adopted the similarly worded open-ended questions to measure salience (Erbring, Goldenberg, & Miller, 1980; Iyengar, 1979; Neuman, 1990, etc.). Smith (1987) measured the public agenda in his research study, investigating a relationship between local newspaper coverage and public concern about community issues, by asking, “What do you think are our community's most important problems and needs?” Edelstein (1974) highly praised this approach because it allows respondents to explain what problems are important to them rather than choosing from a list provided by the researcher.

On the other hand, the alternative approach is the closed ended question which has some other advantages. Use of a closed ended or short question in which respondents are asked to rank a series of issues provides a more detailed picture of the public agenda. This practice can provide a comparison of agenda on a variety of issues' importance.

The content of the news media was the independent variable in the Chapel Hill study. The researchers compared responses of their open-ended survey questions with a content analysis of the nine major news sources used by the voters of that particular area. Television, radio, newspapers, and news magazines were included in the sources. As a result of the open-ended survey question five major issues of importance were found to the voters of Chapel Hill . These issues were foreign policy, law and order, fiscal policy, civil rights, evaluation of the news coverage across three weeks of the last presidential campaign (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). The public agenda of the issues of the study was rank-ordered according to the number of voters naming an issue. These five issues were rank-ordered on the news agenda according to the percentage of news coverage on the issues falling into each category. There was a strong and significant relationship between the public's and the media's agenda about the issues. This transfer of salience from the media agenda to the public agenda was called as the agenda-setting role of mass communication.

The basic purpose of the McCombs and Shaw's study was to investigate a link between the content of the news agenda and the public agenda. The researchers tried to avoid the misleading idea of possible effects, which occurs when only media content is studied. For example, it cannot be assumed that people watching televised violence will repeat the same act of violence in their real lives. Only after analyzing television content and the public's reactions the researchers can say that a correlation exists. Secondly, McCombs and Shaw wanted to examine effects on people that resulted from some specific content of the media messages. Earlier media effects studies did not attempt to establish a link between the effects and specific media content. This study tried to determine a relationship between media and public regarding acceptance of media messages.

The Chapel Hill research study provides a methodological ground for the agenda-setting research. However, there is some criticism on this study. Some people argue that a content analysis of the media joined with public opinion surveys provides only one approach to media influence on the pictures in our minds. It might be better for the researchers to arrange a field, or a laboratory experiment to find out the existence of agenda setting in mass communication.

EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH

Since that initial study till now, a great number of published studies have proven this influence of the news media. The agenda-setting power of the news media has also been proven experimentally in the laboratory. Iyengar and Kinder (1987) conducted a series of controlled experiments in which participants viewed television news programs that had been designed to highlight some issues, such as national defense or pollution of the environment. When the participants' ranking of the importance of these experimentally manipulated issues was compared to the salience for them with the other issues of the day, clear agenda-setting effects were found. The issues highlighted in the experimental versions of the newscasts were perceived as more important. The researchers concluded their findings by stating that in some experiments, exposure to a single television news program produced the agenda-setting effects. However, usually the agenda-setting effects were found only after watching a number of newscasts.

A reasonable number of studies have been conducted on the agenda-setting theory. Rogers , Dearing, and Bregman (1993) found 223 publications that directly or indirectly were linked with agenda setting from 1922 to 1992. Most of them appeared after the year 1971, with the climax years of publication (1977, 1981, 1987, 1991) each producing 17 to 20 items (Rogers et al., 1993). Recently, a scholar Aeron Delwiche (2007) claimed in his article “Agenda Setting, Opinion Leadership and the world of Web Logs” that the number of studies on agenda setting has exceeded 350.

QUALITIES AND POWERS OF AGENDA SETTING THEORY

Agenda-Setting theory has its beginning in a scientific background. It predicts that if people use the same media for information, they will place importance on the same issues.  According to Chaffee & Berger's (1997) criteria for scientific theories, agenda-setting is a good theory for a number of reasons.

•   This theory has an explanatory power because it explains why people prioritize certain issues.

•   It's predictive power is also recognized because it predicts the priorities of the media audience according to the news media content.

•   This theory is economical because it is easy to understand.

•   It's theoretical assumptions are balanced and unbiased.

•   The theory provides new areas for further research

•   The theory of agenda setting has an organizing power because it helps to organize existing knowledge of media effects on society.

THE ACAPULCO TYPOLOGY

The comparison of the media agenda with the public agenda has been operationalized in four different categories. The researchers of the agenda-setting theory call these kinds of designs as the Acapulco typology (McCombs, 1981). This typology was first presented at the International Communication Association convention in Acapulco , Mexico . So this is the reason why this typology is called as Acapulco typology.

•  The first type of this typology compares the news coverage for a set of major issues to the aggregate public agenda. The original Chapel Hill study is the best example of Type I design in the agenda-setting literature.

•  The second type also examines the media agenda (defined in terms of a set of issues), but shifts the units of analysis for the public agenda from the aggregate population to the individual. In such situations, the rank-order of an agenda of issues is determined for each person on individual basis.

•  The third type determines the relationship between the media coverage of a single issue and the public opinion about this issue over a period of time. The study of Winter and Eyal (1981) is an example of this type of Design.

•  Type four investigates the relationship between the media coverage of a single issue and the salience of that issue on an individual agenda. The research design of the laboratory experiment is also used in this type and it complements the field research. For example, Iyengar and Kinder (1987) conducted their research on agenda-setting effects repeatedly in a series of laboratory experiments. During the laboratory experiments, the participants watched actual television programs to enhance the salience of certain issues. The result was according to the expectations of the researchers and an increased level of concern was found for the desired issues.

Perhaps there is only one study that has undertaken the vastness of examining simultaneously all four types of the agenda-setting designs. This study was conducted in Taiwan . In his analysis of Taiwan 's first fully contested legislative election in more than 40 years, King (1994) found some evidence of agenda setting with all four designs. The strongest results emerged from a Type one analysis of the newspaper agenda.

Now, we take a brief overview of this typology. Opposite to the three other versions of the public agenda, Type 2 studies highlight individual difference of the audience. An issue agenda is constructed for each individual. Obviously, the items making up these individual agenda must be the same across all of the individuals.

Type 1 and Type 2 use the symbol of an agenda in a real manner. In these situations, the agenda is a set of rank-ordered issues. In contrast, Type 3 and Type 4 designs focus on a single issue, testing the hypothesis that variations in the salience of an issue on the public agenda reflect variations in the news coverage of that issue. The difference between Type 3 and Type 4 is that the Type 3 study verifies the agenda setting influences of news coverage on a population while Type 4 study examines the agenda setting influence of news coverage on an individual.

It can be summarized that there are four different research designs for agenda setting research. These designs are based on the key theoretical and methodological decisions that define the Acapulco typology.

CONTINGENT CONDITIONS FOR AGENDA SETTING

A number of research studies including the original Chapel Hill study investigated the basic agenda-setting hypothesis that news coverage patterns influence public opinion about the important issues of the day. However, some contingent conditions may increase or reduce the influence of the agenda-setting of news media. These contingent conditions include the psychological concept of need for orientation, comparative roles of news media organizations, and the role of interpersonal communication channels in the process of mass communication.

Traditional media research about the effects of mass communication considers audience members as passive receivers of the media messages. This approach gave birth to the basic agenda-setting hypothesis “the media agenda affects the public agenda.” On the other hand, there is another approach called as “the uses and gratifications approach” which assumes that people are not at all the passive receivers of the media messages; rather they are active mass media users who select certain media content to fulfill their particular needs. Therefore, the second phase of agenda setting research relates with psychological explanations for agenda setting. Keeping in view this situation, the original research questions, “What are the effects of the media agenda on the public agenda?” becomes “Why do some media users expose themselves to certain mass media messages more than other people?” This psychological concept of need for orientation states that people feel a need to be oriented to their surroundings. The surroundings include both the physical world and the cognitive world they have.

Furthermore, the media factor is not the only determinant of the public agenda. The agenda setting theory does not negate the basic statement of democracy that the people themselves have sufficient wisdom and knowledge to determine the pathway of their nation, their state, and their local communities. The people are quite able to decide the basic relevance of the issues and attributes presented by the news media. The media set the public agenda only when people perceive their news stories as relevant.

We all have a need for orientation. Each and every person living in this world has a need to understand the environment around him. Whenever we find ourselves in a new situation, a new state or a new country, we feel an uncomfortable psychological situation until we walk around at least some of the surrounding areas. This natural need for orientation also exists in the political and governmental matters, especially in those elections where citizens are faced with unfamiliar candidates in the election. In all these situations people feel a need for orientation?

As we all know, the degree of need for orientation varies greatly from one person to another. For some people in some situation, there is a high need for orientation. For some other persons, there is little or no need for orientation at all. Need for orientation has two integral components: relevance and uncertainty. Relevance is the primary condition that determines the level of need for orientation for each person. If a topic is perceived as irrelevant or very low in relevance, then the need for orientation is low. Usually, people in these situations give little or no attention to news media reports, thus producing weak agenda-setting effects.

On the other hand, for persons among whom the relevance of a topic or issue is high, their degree of uncertainty about the topic or the issue determines the level of need for orientation. If the level of this uncertainty is low the people feel that they basically understand the topic, and then the need for orientation is moderate. These people will watch the media for new developments and perhaps some times for some additional background information. Agenda-setting effects among this group are modest.

Finally, among persons for whom both the relevance and their uncertainty about certain situation are high, need for orientation is high. These individuals normally are committed consumers of the news, and usually strong agenda-setting effects are found among these individuals.

LEVELS OF MEASURING AGENDA-SETTING EFFECTS

Some researchers extended the measurement of the public agenda on the basis of their research studies. In a research study, McLeod, et al. (1974) presented an idea of measuring agenda-setting effects by three different level public agendas. According to his theory, the first public agenda is an intrapersonal or self public agenda. The question asked in the survey of the Chapel Hill study (“What are you most concerned about these days?”) and the question asked in most of the surveys (“What is the most important problem facing this country?”) are actually operational definitions of the intrapersonal agenda. These questions provide a psychological measurement of asking people what they talk about with family and friends. Then comes the second public agenda, which is called as an interpersonal public agenda and it comes when people talk about certain issues with their family members and friends. The third public agenda is about the apparent community public agenda. This agenda appears when people explain what others in the society regard as the most important issues.

WHO SETS THE MEDIA AGENDA?

We believe on the basis of worldwide research that to a greater extent the media set the agenda of the public. But there emerges another important question, if the media set the public agenda, then who sets the media agenda? This question is important in the sense that it transforms the agenda-setting research from independent variable to dependent variable. A number of factors inside and outside media organizations play an important role in setting the media agenda by influencing the media content. The personal attitudes and orientations of media workers, professional routines, commercial policies, ownership patterns, economic policies, advertisers, and the governments influence media content. Media content is necessarily manipulated when events are relocated and reproduced into news.

PASSIVE AND ACTIVE ROLES OF MEDIA

The research studies of earlier times considered media as channel, suggesting the media as nothing more than pipes through which bits and parts of information flow. In these studies media were considered as the neutral transmitters of information, linking senders to receivers. This model states that nothing important happens to the message while it is in the communication channel. The neutral journalist theory and the null effects model support the passive role of media. The null effects model presented by Young (1981) states that mass media provide a good representation of reality with little or no changing.

The research of modern age (Shoemaker & Reese, 1996) doesn't accept the approach of the passive role of mass media. Modern researchers believe that media content is necessarily manipulated when events are relocated and reproduced into news. News media content establishes a symbolic environment by giving greater attention (in the shape of more time, more prominence etc) to certain events, people or group of people than others. So the modern research believes in the active role of media and takes media as the active part of the society.

THEORETICAL APPROACHES

While discussion on the influences on media content, the following theoretical approaches are important in this regard.

•  Mass media content is influenced by media workers' socialization and attitudes. Their professional training, personal and political attitudes and affiliations lead them to produce a social reality.

•  Media content is influenced by media routines. These routines are the ways in which media workers and their organizations perform their work. For example to write a news story before a deadline time or to write it in inverted pyramid are two media routines.

•  News media content is influenced by the ideology of those who are in power in the society. Mass media follow an ideology consistent with those motives and interests, which helps ensure that society will continue in its present form.

•  Media content is influenced by other social institutions and forces. This approach suggests that economic and cultural factors and audience members determine content. (Shoemaker & Reese, 1996).

•  Now we describe these influences on media content in detail.

INDIVIDUAL MEDIA WORKERS' INFLUENCE ON MEDIA CONTENT

Media content is influenced by media workers including reporters, editors, correspondents, news producers, etc. Their personal attitudes, values, beliefs, affiliations, educational and social background, working environment, professional background influences media content. Their professional experiences shape their roles and ethics. These professional roles and ethics have a direct effect on media content. The working environment of media organizations, facilities provided to journalists and especially the salary structure of the media workers influence media content. The content of the elite newspapers greatly differs from the content of small newspapers having poor working conditions.

The personal political attitudes and religious affiliations of the journalists also have an effect on the news production process. In the US , a survey was conducted to investigate the wire journalists' influence on news content. Eleven percent of the sample population of the Wire journalists accepted to adding a personal slant to facts of the news story all of the time, 46.4% took a more careful approach, only admitting to it "often", and a huge number of them (92.5%) stated that they added a new angle to the news items at least sometimes. In addition, 72.3% said they "sometimes took information from press releases to support their own angle, 20% told they did this "very rarely" and 5.3% said they never did this. Most amazingly, 89.2% of those interviewed journalists tended to interpret and/or significance of the information for their readers, whereas only 10.4% presented information without adding anything. ( Leyland 1999).

INFLUENCE OF MEDIA ROUTINES

Media workers perform their duties within a sphere of routines. For example gatekeeping is a routine. Meeting the deadlines is another routine. Reliance on official sources for news is yet another routine. Dependence of media organizations on each other (for news etc.) is also another routine. These routines ensure that the media system will respond in a predictable manner. Media content is influenced by these routines. These routines affect the social reality depicted by media. Journalists usually rely on sources for news but these sources can have their own personal interests and while giving the information to the reporters, they will definitely protect their vested interests. In the same way news agencies and wire services have a very strong influence on media content. Usually newspapers accept each and every important news item released by the news agencies.

Media organizations also set each other's agenda. These organizations carefully monitor each other's coverage and display of news stories. If some newspaper's staff find something interesting in some other newspaper, they reprint such news items for their own readers. Newspapers usually publish a number of news stories broadcast by radio stations and TV channels. In the words of Shoemaker and Reese (1996), “Journalists rely heavily on each other for ideas, and this reliance constitutes an important organizational routine” (p. 101). Hence, a news item published or broadcast once is published and broadcast again and again by the other media organizations.

Usually, Pakistani media observe each other very carefully to win the maximum audience. If some newspaper breaks a news story exclusively, the other media also carry it and repeat its broadcast and/or publication. This is because of a close competition among media to win the maximum number of audience. The media organizations can't afford to lose their readers and viewers. This is the reason why the media organizations depend heavily on each other for news. Hence they play a pivotal role in setting each other's agenda.

ORGANIZATIONAL INFLUENCES ON MEDIA CONTENT

Media organizations have their own aims and objectives. Throughout the world, most of the media organizations are owned by non-media owners. The majority of them are owned by the huge business groups like the General Electric Company that owns a number of TV channels, radio stations and newspapers in the USA .

For most of the media organizations (in developed as well as in the developing countries), the primary goal is to earn money. Profit maximization is their ultimate goal. The words of public service don't exist in the dictionary of business, commerce and stock exchange. The person who spends millions and billions of rupees aims to earn some profit, so media organizations usually don't compromise on profit and it remains their first priority. These economic considerations become constraints on news work putting an indirect influence on editorial decisions. Sigal (1973) states on the basis his research that “profit maximization provides no guideposts, only constraints” (p.8).

In the words of Shoemaker and Reese (1996), the commercial mass media make their money by delivering audience to advertisers. To the extent that they are consumed by desirable target audiences, print and broadcast media are attractive to advertisers. They must also provide messages compatible with the ads (p. 123).

With the increasing complexity of the corporate organizational structure of the media organizations, concerns have risen about the journalistic autonomy and freedom of the media in almost the whole world. In the newspapers organizations editors have become managers. They control both the editorial and business sections of the paper. However, the relative power of the journalistic section is less. Appointing managers in positions formerly filled by media personnel makes a strong impact on media content. It is also clear that the final organization-level power lies with owners, who set the media agenda.

INFLUENCES FROM OUTSIDE MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS

A number of sources from outside the media organizations influence media content. Shoemaker and Reese (1996) state these influences in these words:

“They include the sources of information that become media content, such as special interest groups, public relations campaigns, and even the news organizations themselves; revenue sources such as advertisers and audiences, other social institutions such as business and government; the economic environment; and technology” (p. 147).

In the developing countries like Pakistan , perhaps the strongest external influence on media content comes from the governments and advertisers. It becomes almost impossible for media organizations to survive without the financial support of the governments and advertisers. The theory of “pay the piper” works here and as a return of economic benefits, media organizations produce most of their content in favor their financers (governments and advertisers). Modern multinational companies have enough power to suppress public messages they do not like. In addition to these factors, the public relations campaigns launched by different organizations (public as well as private organizations) and the pressure groups of the society put a heavy influence on media content. Hence these factors from outside the media organizations play a pivotal role in setting the news media's agenda.

INFLUENCE OF IDEOLOGY ON MEDIA CONTENT

Ideology also plays an important role in setting the agenda of the news media. In the words of Becker, “an ideology is an integrated set of frames of reference through which each of us sees the world and to which all of us adjust our actions” (Becker, 1984,p.69). What is the basis of ideology in a country like Pakistan ? Obviously the ideology of Islamic values governs as a supreme ideology. So the media have to respect and regard the ideology of Islamic values. But at the same time there is another theory that the media obey and that is the ideology of those who are in power in certain society. The Pakistani media are depicting the same picture in their daily broadcasts and publications. It seems that the media are obeying the ideology of the rulers all the time.

Altschul (1984) has presented another idea with the assumption that media reflect the ideology of those who finance them or ‘pay the piper'. He states four sources of media support; “(1) Under the official pattern media are controlled by the state, (2) in the commercial pattern media reflect the ideology of advertisers and their media-owning allies, (3) under the interest pattern media content reflects the ideology of the financing group, such as a political party and a religious group, and (4) in the informal pattern content reflects the goals of individual contributors who want to promote their views. The mix of these financing patterns varies from country to country and overtime within countries” (p.254). According to this framework, the media always reflect the ideology of the paymasters. Hence the financers and the paymasters of the media play a significant role in setting the media's agenda.

CONCLUSION

On the basis of the detailed discussion and the findings of different research studies, it can be concluded that the mass media can play a pivotal role in changing the minds of the people. Because of the agenda setting role of mass media, the media agenda becomes the public agenda with the passage of time. The theory supports the concept of the strong media effects. Now it becomes the responsibility of the media organizations to play a responsible role in their agenda setting, because ultimately it will become public agenda. The theory puts a high responsibility on the shoulders of media organizations because their irresponsible behavior can damage the national interest.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Saqib Riaz is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mass Communication, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU), Islamabad , Pakistan . He has done his masters in Mass communication from Punjab University Lahore and M. Phil. in Mass Communication from AIOU Islamabad. He got advanced training in Journalism from the International Institute for Journalism, Berlin , Germany . Recently he has completed his Ph.D. in Mass Communication and his PhD thesis has been evaluated by three different Professors belonging to the top universities of the USA . He is a famous journalist and has worked as magazine editor in a couple of Islamabad based national newspapers. He is author of two books on Journalism and also a renowned media consultant of the country. He has achieved a number of awards and honors during his professional career. He is a Free Lance journalist and contributes articles to the national and international newspapers.

E-mail: saqibriaz2001@yahoo.com Phone: 051-9057828

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