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The Agenda-Setting Theory

Discuss about the Agenda Setting and Global Television.

The media covers most occurrences in the world. A large percentage of the world's population has access to a gadget which enables access to information. The gadgets could be a mobile phone, television set, a computer and several other platforms. With the advancements in the field of technology, the way in which news spread from one corner of the world to the other has also changed. The communication speed has also increased. The use of the internet has created a platform for media convergence. Information can be sent to the audience in different forms over the internet. Audio, video, pictures, as well as print media, can be sent via the internet. An event happening in The United States of America can be easily followed by someone from India or any other part of the world through live streaming; all you need to do is just get the link of the airing television channel. (Mccombs, 2013, P.85).

The agenda setting theory explains how the media affects the audience by setting up the topic to think about. It was formulated by Max McCombs and Donald Shaw in the year 1968 when they were studying the impact of the media to the American Presidential elections. (Bowles, Hamilton & Levy, 2014, P.53). What people watch on the television is what they will think about and decide the course to follow. However, this theory has mostly been linked to the wrong happenings in the society which include war, increased crimes and immorality in the societies. A study was done to see the impact of television programs and games on young children. It was found out that those children who were found to be violent watched war-related films and played games such as the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) (David, 2016, P.124).

Global television channels are watched in several places of the world. These channels include BBC, which is found in the United Kingdom, Aljazeera, found in the Middle East, CNN, found in the United States, Sky News, Fox News, and several other television channels. These television channels have a large viewership in the world. News or any other media material aired in these channels will affect a large percentage of people.

The attack on the US in September 2011 led to the bombing of Afghanistan which was believed to hide the terrorist responsible, Osama Bin Laden. This event was covered in several media houses with the major one being Aljazeera which even gave the clips of speeches of Bin Laden.  The US was forced to regulate the activities of the station; it did not succeed and therefore decided to bomb its operational base killing journalists of the station. What Aljazeera was showing the people was that they knew where Bin Laden was but could not tell the US of his hiding. If they did not know, the question among many was, how did they interview him?

The Consequences of Conflict Reportage in Global Television

It was a time of crisis in Afghanistan, and many innocent people were killed along with the suspects, yet the person behind all these is viewed on the television, what agenda is the Channel setting?  Aljazeera set an agenda for the military to bomb its operational base which was not in their plan till they watched their content.

Most places during the times of war are attacked because the media has revealed the ongoing activities. The government is then forced by the media to formulate policies to favor different activities in the regions.  Most people in the world will expect the government to act in the direction provided by the global media since they feel it is the right decision after being convinced.

A video footage from WikiLeaks, in 2010 which showed how the US soldiers killed several civilians and two journalists brought the world into attention on the ongoing crisis. This was not a good image to the world. It made the US military to regulate its attack activities in the fight towards terrorism in the world. So many blamed the incident which resulted in the US government to call upon the military to change their attack policies. Government and organization policies in the world can be set by the global media either directly or indirectly. In an indirect way, the video footage mobilized human rights organizations in the world to rise against the killings. In such cases, the blamed organization will always try to paint such a media negatively.

Global television reporting creates a public sphere to any military operations in the world. Mass killings are therefore stopped. This is a positive impact to the society. However, at times it is believed to spread propaganda in the world.  This in most cases does happen when the media has been denied freedom by the government. The government will in most cases try to prevent the media from covering the truth about its operations, most of the time political leaders are the ones responsible. They want to be painted positively in the world despite their doings. For example, the US never wanted to be blamed for attacking Iraqi in 2003. (Freedman, & Thussu, 2013, P.77). President George W. Bush saw that he was right after all. The news was spread globally that Iraqi was harboring terrorists and that was the reason behind the attack. According to many, this was propaganda to attack Iraqi, the US could have arrested President Saddam Hussein, whom they wanted and stop killing innocent civilians. In order to cover tracks which will lead to revealing the truth, global media is made to spread propaganda in the world nations so that they can see the essence of the attack on Iraq. (Haridakis, Hugenberg & Wearden, 2016, P.111).   The US assumed that it had rights to implement its policies in Iraq without consent from the international ruling bodies.

Media Freedom

The media is the fourth estate in a country; it deserves freedom. It needs to operate under minimal regulation from the government to avoid it becoming a propaganda tool. Does global media have freedom?  The media has not been fully permitted to work in the world. This is why we still have propaganda spread through the global media, misleading people to follow a certain direction intended for them. Media freedom is the reason behind the killing of journalists in the world to cover the truth which they would have revealed to the world. We have had cases of BBC and Aljazeera journalist's being attacked and killed. This is not only in the global television network but also in the local and regional television networks. For instance last month, in Kenya Joseph Masha, who was a news reporter of The Standard Newspaper was attacked after he had had a meal with his rival, who was a politician. He had published an article which could have made the politician to lose in the elections (Zavattaro & Bryer, 2016, P.116) He is believed to have killed Masha to stop publications about him.

It is according to the media laws to protect your sources of information. (Plaisance, 2012, P.32).  The US, during their attack in Afghanistan, attacked the global television networks of Aljazeera for airing clips of the most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden. They wanted to destroy the footage of the video clips and ended up killing journalists in the process. This is an indication that the media has not been given permission to cover certain events. They wanted Aljazeera to tell them where they got the footage from. This is against the media laws in the world. News sources are not to be revealed for their security purposes. Respect to the media laws is missing in the world. (Baran & Davis, 2015, P.34)

With the advancements in technology, media convergence has greatly improved. The global television networks have a wide coverage. People in different parts of the world can easily access the channels like BBC and CNN in any place through live streaming as long as they possess a gadget that is network enabled like for instance a phone. With the increased internet speeds, there are no difficulties when live streaming. Because of this, most people get news and programs from these channels. As per the agenda setting theory, most of their decisions are made from watching these programs. (Stewart, 2016, P. 63).  Now that media has been denied full freedom by governments in which they operate, propaganda is quickly spread all over the world within a very short duration. In the US attack against Iraq, the American government stopped its media from using footage from Aljazeera due to the content covered. At that time, the Iraq attacks were what dominated the media, and so many people who were following the occurrences were denied the opportunity. In this case, the US infringed the media freedom. (Seethaler, 2013, P.47).

Freedom of expression and speech has also been invaded in several instances in the global media. When denied an opportunity to air the news or articles you have researched on, then you are being silenced. Since there are so many people watching the global television, access to information is denied to them. Freedom of expression and access to information goes hand in hand in several ways. If one of them is hindered, then the other one is affected. For example, CNN was asked to tell the civilians that Afghanistan was being bombed because of the Taliban's regime to support Al-Qaeda.  This was also implemented to the rest of the media houses in the world. The media was directed on what to say therefore it had no freedom to express and exercise what they understood. (Allen & Seaton, 2013, P.16)

Conclusion

The CNN theory that television has usurped the function of governments in setting the agenda therefore dictating international relations holds in some circumstances. What we always have to remember is that the media does not tell people what to think, but what to think about. People are the final decision makers. (O’hair, 2015, P.9).  The circumstances under which this theory works include when superpower nations like the USA use the media to spread propaganda to other nations. (Ess, 2009, P.97) The other countries (developed nations), will abide by what they will watch the television or other social media. For instance, when CNN aired news that Afghanistan was to be attacked for supporting terrorists despite the fact that consent was not sleeked from the United Nations organization to apply military force to the state. Most countries believed in it.

References

Allen, T., & Seaton, J. (2013). The media of conflict: war reporting and representations of ethnic violence. London, ZIntellect

Baran, S. J., & Davis, D. K. (2015). Mass communication theory: foundations, ferment, and future. Boston, MA, Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Bowles, N., Hamilton, J., & Levy, D. A. L. (2014). Transparency in politics and the media: accountability and open government.

David A. (2016). Agenda setting, problem definition, and their contributions to a political policy analysis.

Ess, C. (2009). Digital media ethics. Cambridge, Polity. https://site.ebrary.com/id/Intellect

Freedman, D., & Thussu, D. K. (2013). War and the media: reporting conflict 24/7. London [u.a.], Sage Publ.

Haridakis, P. M., Hugenberg, B. S., & Wearden, S. T. (2016). War and the media: essays on news reporting, propaganda and popular culture. Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. https://public.eblib.com/choice/publicfullrecord.aspx?p=1594691

Mccombs, M. (2013). Setting the Agenda the Mass Media and Public Opinion. New York, NY, John Wiley & Sons. https://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:101:1-201502186778

O'hair, H. D. (2015). Communication and media. Westport, Conn, Praeger. 

Plaisance, P. L. (2012). Media ethics: key principles for responsible practice. Los Angeles, SAGE.

Seethaler, J. (2013). Selling war: the role of the mass media in hostile conflicts from World War I to the "War on Terror". Bristol, UK, Intellect

Stewart, I. (2016). War, culture and the media: representations of the military in 20th century Britain. Trowbridge, Flicks Book Intellect

Willis, J. (2013). The media effect: how the news influences politics and government. Westport, Conn. [u.a.], Praeger

Zavattaro, S. M., & Bryer, T. A. (2016). Social media for government: theory and practice

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