CMN 3133: Reading #5 Oct 20th 2013
The Agenda Setting Function of Mass Media
Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L.
In choosing and displaying news. Editors, newsrooms staff and broadcasters play an important part in
shaping political reality.
Readers learn not only about a given issue, but also how much importance to attach to that issue.
They apparently learn, furthermore, in direct proportion to the emphasis placed on the campaign issues by
the mass media.
Specifically focusing on agenda setting function of the media Lang and Lang observe: “the mass media
force attention to certain issues. They build up public images of political figures. They are constantly
presenting objects suggesting what individuals in the mass should think about, know about and have
Perhaps this hypothesized agenda setting function of the mass media is most succinctly stated by Cohen,
who noted that the press: “ may not be successful in telling its readers what to think about”
Hypothesized that the mass media set the agenda for each political campaign, influencing the salience of
attitudes toward the political issues.
1. the basic characteristics of newspapers, television and news magazines differ.
Television is daily but has a severe time constraint. News magazines appear weekly; news therefore cannot
be as timely.