The agenda-setting theory is an idea that when the mass media focus their attention on particular events or issues, they determine, or set the agenda for, the major topics of discussion for the general public. It amazes me that a small group of executives rather than the general public should decide what should be important news and what should not.
Conveniently, I am in a group that is studying the agenda-setting theory in relation to news about evolving education. A common factor that my group members found about this subject is that recently all of the news outlets in the United States that we are reviewing tend to put a positive spin on education and how it is getting better. None of us had found recent articles about how we are falling far behind several other countries or about how test scores are dropping in some areas of the U.S. I believe the agenda-setting theory applies to this example because there is obviously a common interest for media outlet’s to portray the United States’ education as exemplary and that it is consistently improving.
Last week, however, I found an article from The Washington Post that did reveal that test scores had dropped double digits in some places local to the newspaper. Is there a new agenda to be set about education in the United States? The Post is a nationally recognized news source and its information is often followed by other news outlets. I am interested to see if this article may begin a whole new agenda on the perspective of American education.