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Journalism 614: Agenda Setting and Framing. Categories of Effects:. 1. Agenda Setting 2. Priming 3. Cueing 4. Framing. Agenda Setting is. …the process by which problems and alternative solutions gain or lose public and elite attention.

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Journalism 614: Agenda Setting and Framing

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categories of effects
Categories of Effects:
  • 1. Agenda Setting
  • 2. Priming
  • 3. Cueing
  • 4. Framing
agenda setting is
Agenda Setting is
  • …the process by which problems and alternative solutions gain or lose public and elite attention.
  • …a fierce competition because we cannot consider every issue at once because the public’s “carrying capacity” is too small
why is agenda setting important
Why is Agenda Setting Important?
  • E. E. Schattschneider: ‘The definition of the alternatives is the supreme instrument of power”
  • Control over agenda means control over outcomes
  • Agenda setting is therefore about getting on the agenda, and about keeping things off of it.
the foundations of a paradigm
The Foundations of a Paradigm
  • Rejection of persuasion
    • Focus on cognitive processes
  • Rediscovery of powerful effects
    • Response against the limited effects paradigm
  • Interest in media--politics interface and conditions under which effects occur
agenda setting
Agenda Setting
  • Agenda-setting
    • “telling us what to think about” (Cohen)
    • Identified with McCombs & Shaw (1972)
    • Emphasis on how the media shapes public opinion concerning the relative importance of issues
    • Indicators of media emphasis
      • Attention (frequency and length of stories)
      • Placement (top story, “above the fold”)
      • Content cues (headlines, photos, tone)
      • Number of sources / Number of outlets
      • Others?
four phases of research
Four Phases of Research
  • Nearly 300 published studies
    • First phase - publication of McCombs & Shaw’s original research - coin the term
    • Second phase - follow-up to confirm the effect and discover contingencies
    • Third phase - new domains - agenda of candidate character and personal concerns
    • Fourth phase - attention to the sources of the media agenda - inter-media effects
how issues reach the agenda
How Issues Reach the Agenda
  • Group conflict
  • Leadership activity
  • Protest movements
  • Media coverage or activity
  • Changes in indicators
  • Political changes
  • Crises and Focusing Events
special role of focusing events
Special Role of Focusing Events
  • “a rare, sudden, well-known, actually or potentially harmful event.”
    • Mass Shooting, Earthquake, Govt Shutdown…
  • Tend to induce sudden attention to issues
  • Can trigger intensive group interest/activity
  • Focusing events can fade fast off agenda
studying agenda setting
Studying Agenda Setting
  • Time-order is key
    • Media shape public agenda?
    • Media follow public agenda?
    • Both respond to something else
      • Institutional prompting
      • Objective reality
    • Studies show that there is a time-ordered connection between media and public agenda
      • Cross-lagged correlations - arbitrary time lag
      • More sophisticated studies improve early methods
major questions
Major Questions
  • Who sets the public agenda, and under what conditions is this effect likely to occur?
  • Who sets the media agenda, and which media direct the agenda-setting process?
  • Who sets the agendas of interest groups, leaders, and policy makers?
contingent conditions
Contingent conditions
  • Need for cognition/orientation
    • Increases agenda setting through media surveillance
  • Political involvement/interest
    • Increases agenda setting through news use
  • Issue abstraction
    • More pronounced for abstract issues
  • Personal viewpoints
    • Increases when consistent with personal orientation
  • Interpersonal discussion
    • Reduces media dependence for agenda development
setting the media agenda
Setting the media agenda
  • Intermedia agenda setting - influence that agendas of different media have on each other
  • Political advertising — and political elites — drive the agenda of all news organization
  • National news agencies have been found to drive the agenda of local news agencies
  • National newspaper have been found to drive the agenda of television networks and digital outlets
setting the elite agenda
Setting the elite agenda
  • Reciprocal causation between journalists and policy makers - both have influence
  • Media coverage can help shape the agenda of policy-makers
    • However, these effects do not appear to ultimately affect policy making itself
  • Elites pay attention to the public agenda that the media helps to establish
problems with agenda setting
Problems with Agenda Setting
  • Trouble linking evidence to key theories of society, news work, and human psychology
    • Often focused on aggregate level effects – shift in issue priorities across the population – and rely on incomplete psychological explanations
    • Failure to fully integrate content and effects in coherent studies of media effects
      • Limited experimental evidence
questions about digital media
Questions about Digital Media
  • May lessen the agenda-setting effects
    • More content choice
    • More control over content
    • More outlets and opinions
  • Blogs, in particular, rely on media agenda
    • This may strengthen agenda setting effects
priming iyengar kinder
Priming (Iyengar & Kinder)
  • Drawing attention to an issue can change the criteria used to evaluate political leaders
    • Issues high on the public agenda serve as basis for judging the success or failure of elites
    • Short-term effect or long-term effect?
    • Priming in politics may have profound effects
      • E.g., Media attention to Persian Gulf war primes positive evaluation of Bush Presidency which reversed when focus was shifted back to the economy (Krosnick)
priming issues
Priming Issues
  • Increasing attention to effects of priming on other issues through the “spread of activation”
  • Encountering moral-ethical issues changes how people understand other issues they encounter
    • Come to understand other issues in ethical terms
  • Can also prime particular candidate characteristics
    • Focus on issues can prime judgments of competency or integrity, depending on the issue
second level agenda setting
Second Level Agenda-Setting
  • Revised version of the theory
  • Media tell us how and what to think
    • Attention to particular attributes
  • Sounds like framing
    • “to frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communication text” - Entman
  • Two broad traditions
    • Sociological - Outcome of news work
      • The process of news production
    • Psychological - Categories of the mind
      • The process of audience consumption
framing and cueing
Framing and Cueing
  • The power of language to shape thought
    • Frames - broad organizing principles
      • Idea used to structure a news story
      • Journalistic decision
    • Cues - labels and categories
      • Word or phrase with rhetorical value
      • Contested by elites
framing and cueing22
Framing and Cueing
  • Episodic vs. Thematic frames
  • Strategy vs. Policy frames
  • Ethical vs. Material frames
  • Individual vs. Societal frames
  • Pro-life vs. anti-abortion
  • Estate tax vs. death tax
  • Terrorists vs. insurgents
episodic vs thematic
Episodic vs. Thematic
  • Iyengar, 1991
    • Media tend to present social problems in episodic terms (individual, short-term) instead of thematic terms (collective, long-term)
    • This patterns encourages audiences to attribute responsibility for solving the problem to the individual instead of the collective
strategy vs policy
Strategy vs. Policy
  • News coverage tends to focus on the game of politics, and the competition between players, instead of the features of policy
    • Particularly true during elections
  • Leads to audience cynicism and may contribute to the erosion of efficacy
ethical vs material
Ethical vs. Material
  • News media tend to construct issues in terms of opposing rights / moral principles, as opposed to economics or pragmatics
  • Encourages simplified electoral decision making and character attributions
individual vs societal
Individual vs. Societal
  • News media tend to frame issues at the individual level, as opposed to the societal level, due to dominant news values
  • This frame distinction interacts with other coverage elements to influence the complexity of thought, tolerance judgments
news norms and frame effects
News Norms and Frame Effects
  • These dominant news norm of focusing on specific episodes over broader themes, political strategy over policy, matters of principle over pragmatics, and individuals over groups all reduce citizen competence
    • What does this say about the work of journalists? How might they change?
frames and cognitive processing
Frames and Cognitive Processing
  • Message frames interact with:
    • Audience predispositions and knowledge
    • Framing effects are not uniform
      • Different for different people
  • Cognitive structures (schemas):
    • Constellations of knowledge used to organize processing of new info (e.g., news stories)
      • Organized into associated networks of information
      • Developed through past experiences, information exposure, and social interactions
associative networks
Associative Networks
  • Networks of interrelated constructs
    • Frames/cues activate mental constructs
  • Construct activation from interconnected network
    • Spread of activation through associated nodes
  • Complexity of activated thoughts
    • Concerned with form, as opposed to content, of memory
    • Complexity as an indicator of political sophistication?
source and language cues
Source and Language Cues
  • Source cues - who is making the comment?
    • Conservative or Liberal
    • Black or White
    • Different leaders
  • Language cues - what labels are used?
    • Urban sprawl vs. Suburban development
    • Pro-Choice vs. Abortion Advocates
    • Insurgent vs. Terrorists
powerful cues recast debates
Powerful Cues Recast Debates
  • Get in Groups of three to four:
    • Pick a set of cues that has defined the debate about a specific policy or product
    • Pick a policy debate or product category and discuss how the cues have defined this choice
  • Ex. Partial Birth Abortion vs. Late Term Abortion
frames and cues interact
Frames and Cues Interact
  • Organizing devices and source or language cues work together to influence judgment
    • Tolerance judgments affected by individual frame combined with “othering” cues
  • How might they work together to influence tolerance and the desire to speak out?
  • Get Back in Groups: Come up with an example of how a news frame and elite cue might work together to sway opinion in particular ways.
    • Can stick to the cue you had in mind or pick new one