The Agenda of the Media

April 28, 2009

When shopping for movies, my choices do not stray far from the 5 dollar bin of Target or Wal Mart. I can always find a great steal in these large bins overflowing with second rate films, and my movie collection is overflowing with them. A few months ago while browsing through these large bins, I came across the film Blood Diamond, staring the gorgeous Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou. I was surprised that a film with 5 academy nominations would be in such a bin, so I bought it and took it home. After popping some popcorn I watched the film, and I swear my mouth was hanging open the entire time with shock. blood-diamond

The movie is about the conflict areas in Sierra Leone and other parts of Africa, and focuses on a specific family who is split up by the rebel forces made up of child soldiers. I couldn’t believe the horrible things going on in the film were true and it prompted me to “google it”.

After looking around on the internet, it confirmed that such things as conflict diamonds do exist and for the next few days, all I could think about were these conflict diamonds! I made sure that all of my friends and family knew to look out for these diamonds when shopping for jewelry. Of course, they were not nearly as interested in this topic as I was because they had not watch the film, but looking back on this experience, I realized that this film did have an affect on me.blood-diamond-2 Being under the constant control of the third person effect, I realized that I too am affected by media. Blood Diamond had affected me by agenda setting, and all I could think about was conflict diamonds!

According to researcher Joanne Miller, agenda setting is usually set for us by the content of news stories.(2007) The media is constantly telling us what to think about, whether it’s the new outbreak of swine flu, or about Octamom and her newest cosmetic surgery, but my newly gained media literacy can help me deflect agenda setting. Although agenda setting will never go away, I can use my media literacy to really think about what the media is telling me. I can take a step back and ask myself, “Did I really need to know this?”. As for Blood Diamond, I think in that case, it was an example of positive agenda setting because it got me thinking about a particular world topic. But as for “breaking news” like Brittany Spears shaving her head…”Did I really need to know this?”.

Miller, Joanne (2007) Examining the Mediators of Agenda Setting: A New Experimental Paradigm Reveals the Role of Emotions. Political Psychology. Vol. 28 Issue 6, p689-717, 29p

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