The theory behind Payola

Agenda Setting:

Agenda Setting as defined in “ Mass Media, Mass Culture” is the process whereby the mass media determine what we think and worry about. Walter Lippmann, a journalist first observed this function, in the 1920’s. Lippmann then pointed out that the media dominates over the creation of pictures in our head, he believed that the public reacts not to actual events but to the pictures in our head. Therefore the agenda setting process is used to remodel all the events occurring in our environment, into a simpler model before we deal with it. Researchers Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw have then followed this concept.

This impact of the mass media- the ability to effect cognitive change among among individuals, to structure their thinking- has been labeled the agenda-setting function of mass communication. Here may lie the most important effect of mass communication, its ability to mentally order and organize our world for us. In short, the mass media may not be successful in telling us what to think, but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about.”


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