Dr. Drissia CHOUIT

Moulay Ismail University


News Literacy


Reading 4.2.

The Agenda-Setting Theory of the Press


Extract From:

Chouit Drissia: "Promoting Media and Information Literacy in Universities through Theory and Research". Paper presented at the International Seminar on Media and Information Literacy at the University Level, 19-20 June, 2012, Faculty of Arts and Humanities Fes-Sais, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Fez, Morocco.





News literacy is a key component of media literacy. Understanding how media professionals decide what to be part of the news agenda and what to be discarded is a very important knowledge for students to become discerning citizens, fully involved in the life of their society. This unit is devoted to the Agenda-Setting Theory of the Press.


The Agenda-Setting Theory of the Press

The Agenda-Setting Theory of the Press contends that in its every day surveillance of events, the press selects what to be included in news reports and what to be discarded, based on news values (Reading 4.1.). What is considered by media professionals as news worthy finds its way to the news agenda and is given space, time and prominence according to the importance they assign to it; and what they do not consider worthy of coverage is not included in the list of items to be covered. Thus, professional communicators set the news agenda (1) by selecting items to be part of the news; and (2) by deciding their order of importance.


The theorists of the Agenda-Setting Theory of the Press, Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw, have a famous statement which says that 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". It is true that the media tell us "what to think about" by providing news to us. But it is also true that the media tell us "what to think," especially in the political sphere as most of us are politically illiterate.


While identifying how "news can be manipulated," Larson (2001:309) maintains that "one way gatekeepers distort the news is by simply ignoring it." Other ways include "favouring the sponsor," placing "pseudo-events" on the news agenda, or presenting "biased news" (309-310). He explains that "news can be biased by simply taking things out of context or by misquoting a source." (310)


Knowing that news undergoes such a thorough process of construction will certainly help our students to be alert to news content and format and to better appreciate the fascinating but at the same time challenging world of mass communication.



This theoretical overview gives us an idea about the importance of media and communication research in sharpening the analytical and critical skills and attitudes of students and introducing them to the craft of mass communication and information. This would enable them to use media and information to their own advantage, and to shift control from media and other information providers to themselves, by being better in-command of their own lives and decisions.



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See Also:

Article in the Columbia Journalism Review on News Literacy:

"News Literacy Goes Global"





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amine ismaili | Réponse 24.09.2020 17:11

Thank you Madam for the huge and interesting information you'd provide us with

Omaima hibour | Réponse 22.09.2020 15:44

Merci beaucoup

Nadiri soufiane | Réponse 18.09.2020 12:00

Thanks a lot professor for sharing with us this valuable informations and makes us aware about fake news and how they affect our own decisions and our thinking

Salah Ait ali | Réponse 13.11.2018 19:06

Very crucial. Thanks a million for such valuable and precious information.

Zajou Yassine | Réponse 22.05.2016 18:19

I'am so greatful to you for giving us such valuable information. I hope teacher that you will reach your goal to improve the quality of education in Morocco.

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02.06 | 08:01

thank you so much professor for these important points.

25.05 | 04:35

Copy this link, paste it in your browser, then click on it http://elab.lms.athabascau.ca/

25.05 | 04:23

Already done!

25.05 | 04:22

No. This website provides some units of the course + complementary information and resources. You have to combine both e-learning platform and this website.

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