Role of Media in Setting the National Agenda
Media is the means through which communication reaches the public. Media channels could include television, radio, magazines, and social sites. A political or national agenda according to Walgrave, Sorok, & Nuytemans (2008) refers to the list of issues that political actors pay attention. Agenda determination is, therefore, a necessary precondition for any political decision making.
Media significantly influences the setting of political agendas because it is the people’s voice and provides useful information to the public (Barron, 2013). This paper, therefore, focuses on the argument that media’s check over the judiciary lies in its power and potential to choose the issues and news that it reports, as well as, its influence over public opinion (Luberda, 2014).
Basis for the claim of media as the fourth branch of government
Some scholars deem the media as the fourth branch of government because of the necessary check that the media institution provides to the executive, judiciary, and legislature as the three constitutional-named branches of government (Luberda, 2014). Basing the argument on the relationship between the judicial branch and the media “fourth branch”, this paper evaluates the media’s coverage of the judiciary as well as the implications of the coverage of public perception on courts as well as democracy. This argument rests on the supposition that media exists as the fourth branch of government, replacing the traditional perception of the Constitution’s three-branch government. This fourth branch of government: evinces autonomy from the politicians and government, has an obligation to speak the truth, no matter the consequences, and has primary responsibilities to the readers and the public (Luberda, 2014).
‘The 4th branch’ depicts media as possessing a major ideological role, one that contemporaneously legitimates the capitalist system and obscures its real exploitative nature. The branch evinces media as an antithesis of the original principles of journalism (Barron, 2013). The power of media in setting the national agendaVarious aspects determine the power of media in setting the national agenda. In addition to receiving information on different issues of public interest, news media affect the weight and importance citizens place on various national matters depending on the emphasis placed by the media. The media directs people’s focus on particular issues in the country by emphasizing on those issues in various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. In particular, news media has the potential of determining the public opinion through its choice of focus issues.
Cohen, McCombs & Shaw (as cited in Walgrave & Aelst, 2006) argue that when mass media puts emphasis on a certain topic, the public, or audience receiving the topic will consider it as an important topic. Elder (as cited in Walgrave & Aelst, 2006) suggest that the media plays an integral role in elevating issues to the systemic agendas. For instance, media played an integral part in the rise and fall of the global warming issue. Media’s role is to …