Posted by: jeanmurin | August 3, 2009

Concern Surrounding Agenda Setting

In Paul Waldman’s article, “Pay No Attention to the Media Behind the Curtain,” he argues that political reporters created a dialogue in the Democratic Presidential debates in 2008. 

However, this dialogue was not relevant to policy or hard-line issues, but instead things like flag pins and accusations of terrorism. He argues that because reporters are respected and expected to deliver us the most important news, they have the freedom to create stories around such “issues.”

This brings me to the idea of agenda setting: the theory that the media tells us what to think about, but not what to think. Essentially, because we see the media as a gatekeeper and watchdog, we expect whatever it delivers to be of utmost importance in order to be informed. 

I agree with Waldman; the media would rather create more sensational news stories to attract viewers and readers than report on mundane, tedious issues. However, how useful are issues such as flag pins in making an informed decision when getting in the voting booth? Sometimes I wish we would all just swallow the pill, even though we don’t want to, and do a better job of informing ourselves about issues that really matter in politics.


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