Chike Walter Duru


This paper examines the relevance of Agenda Setting theory in twenty first century Journalism practice. Agenda-setting theory describes the capacity of news media to influence and guide public discourse. That is, if a news item is covered frequently and prominently, the audience will regard the issue as more important. Agenda-setting theory was formally developed by Dr. Max McCombs and Dr. Donald Shaw in a study on the 1968 presidential election. In the 1968 ‘Chapel Hill study,’ McCombs and Shaw demonstrated a strong correlation between what 100 residents of Chapel Hill, North Carolina thought was the most important election issue and what the local and national news media reported was the most important issue. By comparing the salience of issues in news content with the public's perceptions of the most important election issue, McCombs and Shaw were able to determine the degree to which the media determines public opinion. Since the 1968 study, published in a 1972 edition of Public Opinion Quarterly, more than 400 studies have been published on the agenda-setting function of the mass media. The argument that the Agenda-Setting Theory is still very relevant in contemporary Journalism practice was advanced in the discourse. Based on the Social Responsibility and Gate- Keeping Theories, the paper focused on the Agenda Setting Theory of Communication, its implications, applications and continued relevance, highlighting the functions of the mass media. It is recommended that media stakeholders do more to ensure that issues that will enhance the socio- politico- economic well-being of the people are hyped regularly, to ensure the achievement of set objectives.


Agenda Setting Theory, Journalism, Twenty first Century, Mass Media

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