International Journal of Journalism and Communication
Volume 1, Issue 1, December 2016, Pages: 1-10

Correlation Between Newspapers’ Agenda and Public Agenda on National Issues during General Elections 2013 in Pakistan

Mudassar Hussain Shah1, *, Muhammad Yaqoub2, Saima Kausar3, Ashok Kumar4

1Department of Communication Studies, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan

2Department of Media and Communication, Government College University, Faisalabad, Pakistan

3Department of Mass Communication, Queen Mary College, Lahore, Pakistan

4College of International Education, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, China

Email address:

(M. H. Shah)

*Corresponding author

To cite this article:

Mudassar Hussain Shah, Muhammad Yaqoub, Saima Kausar, Ashok Kumar. Correlation Between Newspapers’ Agenda and Public Agenda on National Issues during General Elections 2013 in Pakistan. International Journal of Journalism and Communication. Vol. 1, No. 1, 2016, pp. 1-10. doi: 10.11648/j.ijjc.20160101.12

Received: August 9, 2016; Accepted: August 20, 2016; Published: September 5, 2016

Abstract: This article looks into the position of agenda-setting of national press primarily focusing on national issues of vital importance during the phase of Parliamentary General Elections 2013 in Pakistan. The study finds the correlation between news papers’ agenda and public agenda, examining the influence of national press on public perception on the issue of salience by using triangulation; media agenda on ten national issues of top priority has been explored i.e. US-drone attacks, economic crisis, corruption, Indo-Pak relations, terrorism, energy crisis, Pak-Taliban talks, education, unemployment and health, at the front and back pages of three leading national popular daily Urdu Newspapers of Pakistan. Public agenda is scrutinized by survey research from 600 respondents, to explore what public perceive about these most important issues? The finding of this study reveals a moderate positive correlation between media agenda and public agenda. Hence, a significant positive correlation exists only on four out of ten national issues i.e. terrorism, energy crisis, US-drone attacks, and economic crisis. It is inferred that agenda setting of the press is dominant over plurality of public voice. This study has the strategic and policy implications.

Keywords: Freedom of Press, Media Agenda, Public Agenda, National Press, National Issues, Pakistan

1. Introduction

Over the last four decades, communication scholars, researchers and theorists across the globe are interested in exploring the correlation between media agenda and public agenda. National press occupies an increasingly important place in Pakistani society. It is a country, where the strong agenda setting role of national press has been examined [2] [31]. An agenda is a set of issues disseminated in a hierarchy of significance at any point in time, public (society) have their agenda set by the media [25] [30]. The basic claim of agenda setting notion is the capability of mass media to bring issues or topics to public attention by giving more coverage to certain issues than making those issues equally important for the public as well. These effects are labeled as agenda setting effects. The agenda setting theory has become a 'paradigm' that offered a marketplace of notions for media impact research [15] [26].

Print media and dailies are still significant source of information. This significance is higher in developing courtiers because of their potential to influence the public opinion. Newspaper provides the detailed information to its readers and it covers variety of aspects for different consumers. Different people read newspapers in five ways; for recreation, public affairs, information, entrainment, and for socialization [6] [47]. However, news media not only report the events and figures, they also restrain and revive them into description with actors and plots [34] [40].

Newspapers in the print media are most available and have the great access to a considerable number of people likewise teachers, students, businessmen, servants, young, old, rich, poor, politician and voters. These newspapers are used as vehicles to empower the literacy because people collect information from newspapers on daily basis to discuss that certainly increase the ability of problem solving, critical thinking, enquiring about sources of information, preservation of information and draw a conclusion [3]. It is an important sources of information regarding the political, cultural, economic, social development issues in any nation, and these newspapers are also vital resources for a researcher in social and natural sciences [27] [47]. Newspapers are recognized as to broaden the sphere of the public events, issues and topics which audience already knows about [33]. The function of mass media particularly print media is acknowledged all over the world. Now-a-days every person in modern and traditional societies has to depend on news media. They read newspapers for knowledge, awareness and to analyze daily incidents. When media portray the image about world events, audience makes that specific picture in their minds.

News media provides vital link between the public and the issues in a society. The continuously increasing flow of press, news set the national agenda on different issues i.e. social, political and economic or any other. Print media and electronic media are used for dissemination of information in Pakistan and have audience members in millions. Television and radio have considerable influence on audience members but still the most reliable source of information among the masses is the national press. Press in Pakistan is operating under private sector so it is enjoying freedom as compared to electronic media. PTV and Radio Pakistan (Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation) that are state controlled. However, the situation is changed and major television and broadcasting industry is in the hand of private organizations. Now, the dependency of the people of Pakistan is continuously increasing on private television news channels along with social media.

The print media is the oldest media in the Subcontinent. Pakistan being a part of subcontinent is also having a historical background of print media. Dating back before independence and even till now, newspapers are the privately owned and having the potential to criticize state authorities by playing the role of watch dog. After the creation of Pakistan, it was considered as an opposition in the early decades. The editorial, feature, article and column of newspapers always remain important and they play a significant role in the formation of public opinion. In the last one and half decade, print media has to undergone major changes i.e. contents, page layout, makeup, headings, resources or correspondents of news and so many others changes. These changes are essential to compete with the emerging electronic media. In the print media, Urdu newspapers are dominant media equally in rural and urban areas and influential among the general public.

The current research is intend to examine the correlation between the agendas of print media and public on national issues. Regarding the role of media as agenda setter and to measure the influence on Pakistani society, the researchers selected the vital issues of 'terrorism', 'energy crisis', 'economic crisis', 'corruption', 'Indo-Pak relations', 'US-drone attacks', 'Pak-Taliban talks', 'education', 'unemployment' and 'health'. The fundamental goal of current research is to examine and explore correlations within the press (newspapers) agenda and public agenda in the country during the General Elections 2013 in Pakistan.

This study assesses the agenda setting influence of print media on the public perception regarding the above mentioned national issues in Pakistan. In this context, research on the agenda setting role of media and on public perception regarding the salience of a particular issue has been largely abandoned.

1.1. Retrospective Perspective on Agenda Setting

The term 'agenda setting' in mass media actually was taken from famous American columnist W. Lippmann [21], who laid groundwork for the theory in the book Public Opinion which was published in 1922. Lippmann is one of the first scholars who discuss the role and impacts of media in our lives which was actually refer to the modern term agenda setting in 1922. In a related stratum, forty one years later on, Cohen [9] advances Lippmann's idea in the book The Press and Foreign Policy more expresses the idea of agenda setting, when he argues that press most of the time is successful in convincing its audience 'what to think about'.

The available literature on media function as setting the agenda is quite ample, especially in America and other developed countries [15] [17] [26] [28] [29] [37] [39]. Early research [25] on news media's function in setting the agenda was conducted in 1968. Over the subsequent years, agenda setting as a theoretical notion was examined by numerous communication, sociologists and political scholars in the globe. The literature on agenda setting theory reflect the effects of significant media concentration laying on mass media which audience give to specific subjects [2] [4] [5] [20] [22] [34]. Agenda setting theory of mass media demonstrates that audience chooses an issue and considers it important that obtains the most coverage in media. It is conferred by more than 400 empirical and theoretical studies that different aspects of agenda setting are explored worldwide [23].

The initial scientific study known as Chapel Hill study on agenda setting is contended by two American scholars M. McCombs and D. Shaw in Chapel Hill, North Carolina during the U.S. presidential elections 1968. In this study, the methodology involved both content analysis and surveys. This study reflect a high positive correlation (+.97) between agenda of news media and audience agenda during elections on five issues, civil rights, law & order, foreign policy, public welfare, and fiscal policy. This is quickly followed by a collection of experimental publications searching for evidence of agenda setting influences. Further, Funkhouser [16] examined the association between media depicttion and audience perceive, the findings of this research expose a strong high relationship (+.78) among the agendas of media and public on topics of the study. He propounds that people consider those issues which news media gives more coverage.

Shaw & McCombs [26] [30] conducted the next most important study in Charlotte, North Carolina. They intend to find more important empirical support for role of media as agenda setting; repeating the basic agenda-setting role, findings of this study reveals that if the news media increases the coverage of political campaign then the interests of voters’ also increase in politics. Weaver et al. [46] conducted a panel study regarding the role of media agenda during USA Presidential Elections 1976. This study also reveals related proof of high agenda setting influence amongst the people.

In U.S.A. during 1970 to 1990, study conducted on agenda setting to explore an association between the media coverage on the issues of pollution and audience anxiety. It used both content analysis and survey methods to evaluate media and public agendas. The findings of study support the hypotheses regarding the correlation; the findings of the research also reveal that some sub issues of pollution are not statistically significant [1]. Studies in Pamplona, Spain, Argentina and South Africa, The results of the study reveal that public agenda is strongly correlated with agenda of local level newspapers and various issue i.e. economics and governmental affairs. On the other hand, public agenda is also positively correlated with the television agenda [8] [11] [22]. Following the general pattern of agenda setting, Du [13] conducted study on inter-media agenda setting among eleven countries worldwide. He associated the media agenda with public agenda to examine the influence of agenda setting. The findings of this study develop an association with media agendas and public agendas across the 11 countries. This study is also having similarities in correction on twitter [42].

Yoon [49] conducted study on World Wide Web to test agenda setting, findings explored that economic topic which is important on Web also significantly ranked high on the public agenda (correlation was +0.83). In an experimental study on agenda setting to investigate impacts of hyperlinks in online newspapers, Wang [43] used experimental research designed to exposed online newspapers that became more salient than those issues that were not reported. The results of the study find a significant relationship between media and public agendas on exposed issues. Harris et al. [19] conducted a longitudinal study on agenda setting on Greek European Elections in 1999. Researchers concluded that news media has important impact in the selection and awareness of topics in political campaigns during the elections. The researchers used the method of content analyses to examine issues in 6 newspapers. The findings reflect that it is not necessary that public consider media agenda. On the other hand, there is a similarity between both agendas; either it is media or public agenda on international issues & foreign policy, It reflect effects to some extent.

McCombs [24] [30] evaluated the series of studies on agenda setting theory from 1970s till 2000s. He made clear that there are three levels (attention, prominence and valence) which explain why the news media is so powerful in determining public agenda. Attention refers to the amount of time given to the issues. Prominence is the placement of the issue within the newscast or within the paper. Valence is defined as the tone or slant of the story, whether it is positive, negative or neutral.

The link between media and public agendas was calculated to determine power of agenda setting influence. In a widespread meta-analysis of ninety studies regarding agenda setting, Wanta & Ghanem [45] found an overall positive mean correlation (+0.53) between media and public agendas. In simple language, mass media is successful in salience transferring of topics from agenda of the news media to the audience agenda.

To find how framing and agenda setting affect public perceptions, Guizlo [18] conducts a study; findings reveal agenda setting power and frames that play a significance role to increase the public perception and knowledge about the issues. Riaz [31] from Pakistan conducted an academic study on public and print media agendas association; it used the techniques of content analysis and survey research. The findings of study reveal positive relationship among media agenda and public agenda on four from six topics. It reveals that media agenda is followed by public agenda, two issues which obtained more significant in public perception as contrast to media's agenda link to the personal needs and requirements of the respondents. It reflects that issues belong to personal experience of readers, are not depended on the agenda of media. It is significant that news media might not change public perceptions on the matter of individual's sufferers. Our preferences are arranged by media through engineering of issues over public preferences [41].

1.2. Obtrusive and Unobtrusive Issues

Obtrusiveness is considered one of the important elements in the agenda setting theory [50]. According to Winter & Eyal [48] obtrusiveness is the quantity of individual firsthand experience with an issue. The core theme behind this concept is that news media has limited influences to shape or change the public perceptions on the issue/event if they have direct experience on the same issue/event (obtrusive issue) i.e. 'unemployment' is obtrusive issue while international problems is unobtrusive issue. The squabble is that individual's experience with an issue filters and to some degree dominates the emphasis of media. In his findings, Zucker [50] declared that mostly agenda setting occurred on unobtrusive topics. Conversely, some researches verified that obtrusive subjects have powerful agenda setting influences on the audience [12] [44]. The current study may confirm the Zucker's notion of unobtrusive issues in which he states that local or national issues have a weak agenda setting effect because the public have more individual association and thereby less depend on the news media for news about those issues.Hence, there are following hypotheses

H1: It is more likely that there is positive correlation between the print media agenda and public agenda on the national issues.

H2: It is more likely that public opinion prevails similar to the tone of newspapers.

2. Methodology

According to the requirements and nature of current study, the triangulation method is used in this study where content analysis and survey research is conducted to evaluate the hypotheses of this study.

The selected period of time is significant period because at that time all the political parties of Pakistan unveiled election manifesto before the General Elections 2013. Most of the parities' manifestos revolve around the issues of terrorism, energy crisis, economic crisis, corruption, Indo-Pak relations, US-Drone attacks, Pak-Taliban talks, education, unemployment and health. These were those issues which not only obtained the significant coverage in the mass media but also rank political parties as most important in public eye. The study is carried out to collect data through survey from the students of universities and colleges in the cities of Sargodha, Faisalabad and Jhang in Pakistan.

Content analysis is one aspect of the study. The coverage of ten national issues is measured with the help of the content analysis tool in three national daily Urdu (language) newspapers: Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt and Express because of their country wide size of circulation, wide spread of readers, consistency in news coverage, editorial independence and their elite and popular status as media organizations in Pakistan. Using this technique, researcher examines all news stories in the form of news items or pictorial about ten national issues at the front and back pages in the sample newspapers. There has been employed a systematic sampling because there are relevance among news stories at the similar date in three newspapers. The study period is based on two months, from 1st May 2013 to 30th June 2013. Content of newspapers is analyzed two alternate days for each newspaper constantly in two months. The daily Jang is analyzed (1, 4, 7, 10, 13, and so on), The Nawa-i-Waqt is analyzed (2, 5, 8, 11, 14, and so on) and The Express is analyzed (3, 6, 9, 12, 15, and so on) days.

Survey research is considered an appropriate method for the requirements and nature of this research study for investigation of public agenda in Pakistan. The data relevant to the study is collected via survey from the students of universities and colleges in Pakistan. The students enrolled in the universities and colleges in Sargodha, Faisalabad and Jhang who read the above mentioned daily newspapers are unit of analysis for survey research. The research population of the present study for survey research is consisted of all the male or female students who read the morning newspapers of Pakistan in Sargodha, Faisalabad and Jhang in the province of Punjab (Pakistan). A sample of 600 students (male 300 and Female 300) is selected from Sargodha, Faisalabad and Jhang cities who read one of the above mentioned three newspapers. Convenience or purposive sampling with probability sampling technique is carried out for data collection. The instrument for this study is the structured verified questionnaire. This multi-items scale posts a Cronbach’s Alpha co-efficient of reliability of the instrument is 0.71. The standard is confirmed by [32].

3. Findings and Discussion

3.1. Evaluation of Content

During research period of two months, as depicts from Figure 1, 130 news items were published about 'terrorism' issue while 126 stories about 'energy crisis' issue, 58 stories about 'Indo-Pak relations' issue, 54 news stories about 'health' issue, the issue of 'corruption' scored 47 news items and 'US-Drone attacks' having a number of 37 news items. Whereas, 'Economic crisis' issue got 26 news items, 'Pak-Taliban talks' scored 17 new items, 'education' issue got 5 news stories, and 'unemployment' issue got only 4 news items. Overall, 505 were examined. Hence, 'terrorism' issue gets the maximum number of news stories in these three newspapers, contrast to it 'unemployment' issue scored the minimum news items and gets the last (10th) position (Figure 1).

Data is evaluated in Frequency (f=505)

Figure 1. Frequencies of news items in dailies of Pakistan.

The researcher also evaluated the length of news stories (with remaining parts on other pages) and pictures about relevant 10 topics in column cm. Regarding news items' length, the issue of 'terrorism' receives maximum coverage of 3543 column cm, a space of 2835 column cm is given to 'energy crisis' issue, 932 column cm to 'Indo-Pak relations' issue, 718 cm column to 'health' issue, 906 column cm to 'corruption issue', 720 column cm to 'US-Drone attacks', the issue of 'economic crisis' gets the coverage of 564 column cm. The issue of study 'Pak-Taliban Talks' gets coverage of 255 column cm. The issue of 'education' gets 64 column cm and the issue of 'unemployment' gets coverage of 65 cm. The coverage sequence of ten issues besides 'corruption' and 'unemployment' is remained similar as it is prior in frequencies of news items (Figure 2). A link between the length of news stories and frequencies is found in it.

Figure 2. Length of the news stories published in dailies.

The Table 1 reflects the slant of cumulative three newspapers about the issues. These newspapers gave (6%) news coverage favorable for the 'terrorism' issue, (87%) coverage unfavorable and (7%) neutral on the same issue. These newspapers gave less coverage in favor of U.S. polices about 'terrorism' issue and more coverage against the U.S. polices on 'terrorism'. The newspapers gave only (6%) slant in favor of government, (88%) slant unfavorable for government and (6%) is neutral regarding ‘energy shortage. During the research period, several ups and downs in India and Pakistan’s relations, the newspapers gave (39%) slant in favorable of 'Indo-Pak relation's issue, (34%) slant unfavorable and (27%) neutral on the same issue. The 'health' issue got (2%) slant coverage in favorable, (96%) unfavorable and (2%) neutral for government. Unlike the other issues, 'health' issue covered the significant slant coverage as anti-government. These newspapers gave (11%) news coverage in favor of 'corruption' issue regarding the acts of government to tackle this issue, (77%) of coverage is unfavorable while (12%) slant shows the neutral coverage about the issue of 'corruption'. Regarding the issue of 'US-Drone attacks', newspapers gave only insignificant coverage.

Table 1. Overall slanting of news items.

Issues Favorable Unfavorable Neutral
Terrorism 6 87 7
Energy Crisis 6 88 6
Indo-Pak Relations 39 34 27
Health 2 96 2
Corruption 11 77 12
US- Drone Attacks 2 95 3
Economic Crisis 18 59 23
Pak-Taliban Talks 59 33 8
Education 100 0 0
Unemployment 100 0 0

These newspapers gave (18%) news coverage favorable for the 'economic crisis' issue, (59%) news coverage was unfavorable while (23%) news coverage was neutral. These newspapers gave less coverage in favor of government policies and more coverage against government polices about 'economic crisis' issue. On the topic of 'Pak-Taliban Talks', these newspapers gave maximum (59%) news coverage in favor of government should talks with Taliban, (33%) news coverage was against 'Pak-Taliban talks' while (8%) coverage was neutral on the same issue. During the study period, both 'education' and 'unemployment' issues got minimum news stories. These issues also got the news stories in favor of (100%). Actually the reason was that the news stories which were published regarding 'education' and 'unemployment' based on positive measures of government and the statements of government (Table 1).

As apparent from Figure 3, newspapers gave maximum coverage of 75% stories about terrorism issue on the front pages while (25%) stories on the back pages. These newspapers published (63%) news stories about 'energy crisis' issue on the front pages and (37%) news about this issue on their back pages. The third issue of study (Indo-Pak relations) was given coverage (44%) news items at the front pages of newspapers while this issue got (56%) coverage of news items at the back pages. The issue of 'health' got (11%) coverage of news items at front pages while (89%) coverage of news items on the same issue was given at back pages. Corruption issue got (68%) coverage of news items at front pages of newspapers while (32%) at back pages. 'US-Drone attacks' remained the burning issue of study it got (70%) news items at front page while (30%) items about that issue was at back pages of newspapers. These newspapers printed (42%) on the front pages about the issue of 'economic crisis' while (58%) news stories were printed at the back pages. And (71%) news items were published about the issue of 'Pak-Taliban Talks' at front pages and (29%) news items were printed on the back pages of newspapers. 'Education' issue got 60% coverage at front page while (40%) at the back pages of newspapers. On the other hand, the issue of 'unemployment' was given (50%) coverage at front page and also (50%) at back pages of newspapers.

Figure 3. News stories placement in newspapers.

3.2. Survey Research

To examine the public agenda, the researcher collected the data form 600 respondents (300 male, and 300 female), from three cities; Sargodha, Faisalabad and Jhang (200 each). All the respondents are graduate and post graduate students.

Table 2 illustrates public agenda on the important issues of the daily three newspapers. Overall, the (21%) readers of the daily three newspapers thought that 'terrorism' issue is most significant among the list of other issues, (19.1%) readers stated that 'energy crisis' as most significant issue, (2.43%) of respondents said that 'Indo-Pak relations' is the most significant issue, 4.8% respondents ranked 'health' as most significant issue of the country. Meanwhile, (11.5%) students stated that 'corruption' is most important issue, (7.5%) respondents stated that 'US-Drone attacks' is most burning issue, (6.80%) respondents said that 'economic crisis' is vital issue, (0.6%) respondents suggested that 'Pak-Taliban talks' is most significant issue, (11.2%) respondents stated that 'education' is the most important issue while (15.13%) respondents stated that 'unemployment' is the most important issue of Pakistan [36].

Table 2. Public's ranking order on national issues.

Issues First Second Third Cumulative Rank
Terrorism 37. 0 14.3 11.7 21.0
Energy Crisis 23.0 23.7 10.7 19.1
Indo-Pak Relations 01.7 5.3 00.3 2.43
Health 03.7 04.3 06.5 4.8
Corruption 07.7 14.0 12.8 11.5
US- Drone Attacks 05.3 06.7 10.3 07.5
Economic Crisis 05.0 08.7 06.7 06.8
Pak-Taliban Talks 00.3 01.0 00.3 00.6
Education 12.7 10.0 11.0 11.2
Unemployment 03.7 12.0 29.7 15.13

*Data is evaluated in (%) (N=600)

The slant, frames and placement of news stories about the significant issues early discussed in content analysis results. Through, the opinions of the readers in research toward issues are evaluated regarding the effects of the slant and frame on them.

During the survey, only (5%) respondents were set up in favorable of U.S. government about policies on 'terrorism'. Nevertheless, majority of the readers' opinion (72%) were found opposing US on this issue. On the other hand, 23% readers' said that we should do any other thing about 'terrorism' (Table 3).

Table 3. Public Opinion about Terrorism Issue.

Public's Perception %
Support the US Policies 05.0
Don't Support the US policies 72.0
Any other 23.0

During the survey, (81.3%) respondents said that Pakistan government should talk with Taliban to resolve the issue of 'terrorism' in Pakistan while only (9.3%) said that we should not negotiate with Taliban and 9.4% said that we should do any other thing (Table 4).

Table 4. Public Opinion about Pak-Taliban Talks Issue.

Public's Perception %
Talks With Taliban 81.3
Don't Talks with Taliban 09.3
Any other 09.3

During the survey, (94.7%) respondents said that Pakistani government should stop US-Drone attacks in Pakistan while only (2.0%) said; we shouldn’t stop US-Drone attacks and (3.3%) respond that Government should do any other thing regarding the issue of 'US-Drone attacks' (Table 5).

Table 5. Public Opinion about US-Drone Attacks Issue.

Public's Perception %
Should stop US-Drone Attacks 94.7
Shouldn't stop US-Drone Attacks 02.0
Any other 03.3

Table 6 depicts, (62.7%) respondents told that negligence of government is the main reason of 'energy crisis' in Pakistan while on the other hand (25.3%) respondents said that lack of energy resources is the main reason of 'energy crisis' in Pakistan. Only (12%) respondents stated that there is any other possible reason of 'energy crisis' in Pakistan.

Table 6. Public opinion about energy crisis issue.

Public's Perception %
Negligence of government is the main reason of energy crisis 62.7
Lack of energy resources is the main reason of energy crisis 25.3
Any other 12.0

Table 7 depicts, (48.7%) respondents told that Pakistan should build the good relations with India while (38.3%) respondents said that Indo-Pak relations are not beneficial for Pakistan. Only (13%) respondents have not clear mind about 'Indo-Pak relations' topic.

Table 7. Public opinion about Indo-Pak relations issue.

Public's Perception %
Indo-Pak Relations are beneficial 48.7
Indo-Pak Relations are not beneficial 38.3
Not clear 13.0

When the questionnaire was given to the respondents to told is there health facilities are sufficient or not in Pakistan, the majority of respondents (85.3%) respondents said that health facilities are not sufficient in Pakistan while only (13%) respondents were those who said that health facilities are enough in Pakistan (Table 8).

Table 8. Public Opinion about Health Issue.

Public's Perception %
Health facilities are sufficient 13.0
Health facilities are not sufficient 85.3
Any other 01.7

When the question was asked about the 'corruption' issue, the majority of respondents (51.7%) said that our majority of politicians, businessmen and bureaucrats are corrupt and are the main reasons of 'corruption' in our country. While (46%) said that we actually as a whole nation are corrupt and causing 'corruption' in Pakistan and (2.3%) respondents said that there is any other reason of 'corruption'. (Table 9) depicts the public opinion about the issue of 'corruption'.

Table 9. Public Opinion about corruption issue.

Public's Perception %
Politicians etc. are Corrupt 51.7
We as a whole nation are corrupt 46.0
Any other 02.3

When the question about 'economic crisis' was asked, (50.7%) respondents said that 'terrorism' is the main reason of 'economic crisis' while (44.7%) respondents said that 'corruption' is the main reasons of 'economic crisis' in Pakistan, and only (4.7%) respondents were those who said that there may be any other reason of 'economic crisis'. (Table 10) describes the public opinion about 'economic crisis'.

Table 10. What one of the following do you think about the issue of economic crises?

Public's Perception %
Terrorism is the main reason 50.7
Corruption is the main reason 44.7
Any other 04.7

3.3. Comparison Between Media Agenda and Public Agenda

The Figure 4 depicts the comparison between media agenda and public agenda when the frequencies of news stories are compared with the ranked issue by the readers of newspapers on national issue; dramatic results are found between media agenda and public agenda. The findings reflect that among the ten national burning issues, 'Terrorism' issue gets the maximum stories (25.7%) and gets first position in media agenda while it is also ranked the highest on the public agenda (21%). 'Energy crisis' issue is at the second issue in media agenda (24.9%) and it gets also second rank order (19.1%) in public agenda. 'Indo-Pak relations' issue is at third in media agenda (11.6%) while it gets the second last (9th) position in public agenda (2.43%). The 4th issue in media agenda is 'health' (10.70%) but it is ranked at the 8th by public agenda 4.8%). 'Corruption' issue is at the 5th in media agenda (9.3%) while it is ranked at 4th by public (11.5%). The issue of 'US-Drone attacks' is 6th in media agenda (7.3%) meanwhile it is also at the 6th position in public agenda (7.5%). 'Economic crisis' issue is at the 7th in media agenda (5.1%) while it is also at the 7th position in (6.8%) public agenda [49].'Pak-Taliban Talks' issue is at the 8th position in media agenda (3.4%) while in public agenda (0.6%) it is at the last position (10th). The 9th issue in media agenda (1%) is 'education' on the other side in public agenda (11.2%) it is at 5th position. The unemployment issue is such issue which given minimum coverage (0.8%) in newspapers and gets last position in media agenda while it got at the 3rd position in public agenda (15.13%). Here, Figure 4 depicts that four out of ten issues; terrorism (25.74%, 21%), energy crisis (24.95%, 19.1%), US-Drone attacks (7.32%, 7.5%) and 'economic crisis' (5.14%, 6.78%) of the study absolutely match within media and public's agendas.

Here, the findings of study cumulatively on ten national issues reveal that there is a moderate correlation (r=+0.579, p<0.05) between media agenda and public agenda and support that there is a positive correlation between media agenda and public agenda [8] [11] [14] [22] [36]. In other words, it can be confirmed that more the exposure of news stories more will be the effects of media agenda on public agenda.

Keeping in view the agenda setting role of media the researcher was curious that there is a high positive correlation exists between the media agenda and public agenda on the four issuesterrorism, energy crisis, US-Drone attacks and economic crisis of the study. So, here again the correlation formula was employed to examine the correlation between media agenda and public agenda. The findings of the study reveal that there is a significant high positive correlations (r=+0.997, p<0.01) exists within media agenda and public agenda.

Correlation is sig at the 0.05 level.

Figure 4. Comparison between media agenda and public agenda.

3.4. Similarities in Media Agenda and Public Agenda

Findings of the content analysis and survey research, the findings reveal the similarities on following issues within media agenda and public agenda;

1.  There are found a positive correlation between media agenda and public agenda on four national issues-Terrorism, Energy crisis, US-Drone Attacks and Economic Crisis.

2.  Public perception about the issues of Terrorism, Energy Crisis, Indo-Pak Relations, Health, Corruption, US-Drone Attacks, Economic Crisis and Pak-Taliban Talks are found the same as these issues are framed and slanted by the media.

3.5. Differences in Media Agenda and Public Agenda

Findings of the content analysis and survey research reflect the differences on following issues with media agenda and public agenda, it can said that there is no correlation between media agenda and public agenda on six national issues-Indo-Pak Relations, Health, Corruption, Pak-Taliban Talks, Education and Unemployment.

4. Conclusion

This study finds correlation between the media agenda and public agenda on the national Issues in Pakistan. The research revealed similarity on the media and public agenda on the matter of salience to certain issues. The contents and frequencies of occurring of news stories of the most important national issues are analyzed and are compared to the public perception about the same issues. Thus, the study explored moderate correlation on six national issues while a significant and strong positive correlation is found between national press agenda and public agenda on four out of ten national issues i.e. terrorism, energy crisis, US-drone attacks, and economic crisis. Therefore, these are only four issues which significantly correlated as compare to other issues i.e. Indo-Pak relations, Health, Corruption, Pak Taliban Talks, Education and unemployment. It is concluded that press tells the readers what to think about and also help them to determine which issue is of prime importance and which should be ignored. It can be inferred that agenda setting effects occur in a subtle and gradual way, drawing people’s attention on certain issues. That’s why in the newspapers, news story's placement is one of the important factors of media agenda setting. The issues which obtained more coverage at the front page received a better place in public’s mind. Thus, the study is a significant addition on the issue of media agenda and its effect on public.


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