Types Of Agenda Setting In Public Policy

What are the three types of agenda setting? Agenda setting is a process of analyzing problems, where the policy makers and politics come together to place an issue on the policy agenda. There are three types of agenda setting according to Rodgers and Dearing (1988) which are; public agenda setting, media agenda setting and Public audience agenda-setting.

Examples of agenda setting

  1. Public agenda setting – when the public determines the agenda for which stories are considered important. For example, the call by some people for former Zambian president, Edgar Lungu’s immunity to be removed so that the relevant authorities can investigate him and hopefully, according to most people, be prosecuted by the courts of law. 
  1. Media agenda setting – when the media determines the agenda for which stories are considered important. Journalists, editors, newsroom staff and media institutions shape the political reality by choosing which stories to broadcast according to types of agenda setting in public policy. The media focuses on how the masses should think about the nature of news items. It sensationalises news reports to attract the attention of the people due to types of agenda setting in public policy.
  2. The media grabs the attention of the people and impart in their minds a certain agenda, that is why the media turn certain issues viral. The media can escalate issues to gain public attention and get onto the systemic and institutional agenda (Ralph Nader).  

Under the media, they are some concepts which include the following: 

  • Priming – this concept entails the responsibility of the media in proposing the values and standards through which the objects gain a certain amount of attention can be judged. The media gives utmost importance to certain events so much so that they give people the impression that that particular item is the most important one. The selected item which the media places more importance than others is carried on as a heading or it is covered regularly for months, this is done through programmes such as expert opinions, special news features, discussions or indeed as the main headline. 
  • Framing – this is the process of selective control. It has two meanings 
  1. The manner in which news content is shaped and given context within the same frame of reference. 
  1. Audience adopt the frames of reference to see the world in the similar way as the media. 

Framing is concerned with how people attach importance to certain items. For example, in the case of French footballer, Kurt Zouma who plays for West Ham, whose video recently went viral for kicking his cats, the media frames the news in a way that portrays him to be a very violent person and a hater of animals. 

  1. Political/policy agenda setting – this happens when both the public and the media agendas influence the decisions of public policy makers. This agenda setting has two facets according to Cobb and Elder (1983:50) are these are as follows: 
  1. systemic agenda: “all issues that are commonly perceived by members of the political community as meriting public attention and as involving matters within the legitimate jurisdiction of existing governmental authority” 
  1. formal agenda: “that set of items explicitly up for the active and serious consideration of authoritative decision-makers” 

In conclusion, it has been discussed that there are of agenda-setting these being political, media and public agenda-setting. All three determine the agenda for which stories are considered important. It has been types of agenda setting in public policy observed that agenda-setting is a theory birthed under the pretext that what people think about is influenced by the media. 


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