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MAC 111


The elements involved in agenda setting include:

(1)The quality or frequency of reporting

(2)Prominence given to the reports – headlines display, layout, timing on radio and TV set

(3)The degree of conflict generated in the reports

(4)Cumulative media-specific effects over time

3.5.2 Main Streaming/Synchronisation Theory

This theory explains the process, especially for heavier viewers, by which television’s symbols monopolise and dominate other sources of information and ideas about the world.

There are two aspects to mainstreaming:

Message Analysis: involves detailed content analysis of selected media content {especially television programming} to assess recurring and consistent presentation of images, themes, value, and portrayals.

Cultivation Analysis: observation of the effects of the messages.

The assumption here is that television creates a worldview that, although possibly inaccurate, becomes the reality because people believe it is to be so. In other words, the more time people spend watching television, the more their world views will be like those spread by television.

You may like to examine the presentation of violence on television; is there as much violence in reality as the presentation is on television? What of the roles assigned to sex {gender} on television: are men presented as dynamic and aggressive while women are portrayed as passive and domestic? What of strike actions in Nigeria, how has the media presented it? Who is the winner or loser between government and labour? On the international scene, Africa is presented as a region of war, chaos, famine and HIVis it actually true?

3.5.3 The Knowledge Gap Theory

This theory establishes that the media systematically inform some segments of the population; especially those in higher socio-economic groups, better than they inform others. Therefore, the differences between the better informed and the less informed groups tend to grow and become bigger and bigger.

In other words, as the media output increases, rather than balancing the differences between the information rich and the information poor, it


MAC 111


enlarges the differences, because those at the higher socio-economic levels acquire information much faster and much more easily than those at the lower levels.

However, the theory also states the possibility of the gap being narrowed. This may happen if the information rich become ‘sated’, that is they have got enough and do not seek for or need more, while the information poor continue to search till they catch up with the information rich.

3.5.4 Spiral of Silence Theory

It describes the tendency for people holding views contrary to those dominant in the media to keep them to themselves for fear of rejection. An opinion spreads from media to people and people are encouraged either to proclaim their views or to swallow them and keep quiet until, in spiraling process, the one view dominates the public scene and the other disappears from public awareness as its adherents became mute. In other words, because of people’s fear of isolation or separation from those around them, they tend to keep their attitudes to themselves when they think they are in the minority.

The point in the theory is that ideas, occurrences and persons exist in public awareness practically only if they are given sufficient publicity by the mass media, and only in the shapes that the media ascribe to them. So, people perceive issues as the media perceive them. And since society rewards conformity and punishes deviance, the fear of isolation constrains people to conform to shared judgment as guarded or judged by the mass media.

Certain terms that have emerged in the process of exposition and discussion of this theory include:

1.Double Opinion Climatethe media opinion is different from public opinion

2.Silent MajorityDomination of minority opinion over majority

3.Pluralistic Ignorance – Feeling of belonging to minority whereas opposite is the case

4.BandwagonTendency to belong because majority belong

5.SnobeffectDecrease in popularity of opinion because it is believed to be cheap.


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