The Flaws Of Cultivation Theory In The Media

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The flaws of cultivation theory have given rise to other media effects theories, such as agenda setting, which is the most popular contemporary approach to studying the media, political reporting and the media’s role in shaping public opinion (Laughey 2007). Gerbner’s cultivation theory is flawed in that its research and findings have failed to be replicated, a major issue in social science research (De Fleur & Ball-Rokeach 1989). Gerbner also failed to separate the entertainment and information aspects of television, which negatively impacts its usefulness in studying the political effects of the media on the audience. Agenda setting is recognised as ‘not dissimilar’ to cultivation theory in that it seeks to uncover long-term media effects …show more content…
Agenda setting theory suggests that journalists, editors and producers act as “gate keepers” as they judge which issues to report, and how prominence and placement indicates the issues they deem to be most important (Ward 1995, pp.49-50). McCombs and Shaw developed the theory through a study of voters in North Carolina during the 1968 presidential election campaign (McCombs & Shaw 1972). A direct correlation was found between issues considered important by voters, and issues given prominence by the media (McCombs & Shaw 1972; Ward 1995). In 2013, the Murdoch press, known as News Corp, campaigned heavily in support of the Liberal-National Party coalition against the re-election of the Labor Government. News Corp’s selection and presentation of election issues and policy arguably helped to set an agenda for the election campaign (Hobbs & McKnight 2015). During the election campaign, News Corp accounted for “59 per cent of newspaper sales nationwide and 65 per cent of capital city and national daily newspapers” (Hobbs & McKnight 2015, p. 8). Flew and Goldsmith argue newspapers are the most influential in setting the news agenda (Flew & Goldsmith 2013). The question here is not whether the press had a direct affect on the public’s behaviour, but whether the media’s coverage influenced the public’s understanding of the importance of …show more content…
Cohen’s claim that the media are “stunningly successful” in telling the audience what to think about is argued to be somewhat overstated. McLeod, Kosicki and McLeod assert that early agenda-setting theorists exaggerate the power of the media in controlling issue salience (McLeod, Kosicki & McLeod 1994, p. 137). Contemporary arguments for the shortcomings of agenda-setting theory regard the evolution of ‘new media’, and the transformative nature of the audience. The audience is now arguably fragmented as individuals act as their own “gatekeepers” can access news from various non-traditional outlets, attributable to the rise of the Internet (Gane & Beer 2008). The rise of the Internet poses an interesting threat to agenda setting as a legitimate theory of the way the mass media affects the public in their understanding of politics and

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