A note about one of the many things that struck me while observing the Republican primaries. I thought it an interesting exercise to evaluate this using the agenda setting marketing theory.
Agenda-setting theory describes the “ability [of the news media] to influence the salience of topics on the public agenda.”
Using this, it is apparent that the media’s overwhelming coverage of the Trump campaign acted to prime the electorate to be open to his messaging. This is consistent with the role of the media in an agenda-setting context. They did not tell the voters what to think about Trump. Rather, by talking about his attributes, they directed a receptive primary voter audience to Trump and his messaging.
The media’s coverage told voters that:
- Trump is interesting.
- Trump is different.
- Trump is an outsider.
Given the current zeitgeist is anti-establishment, this created a perfect platform for Trump to push his message. With social media providing campaigners with their publishing platforms, the role of media organisations will be increasingly confined to that of agenda-setting, while their role as opinion makers will continue to diminish.