Prepared by the researcher : Dr. Marian Tadrous, Ph.D. in Strategic Media– School of Communication and Arts, Liberty University
Democratic Arabic Center
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Nineteenth Issue – November 2023
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin
:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link
Setting an agenda for the audience is one of the essential functions that news channels perform in society. Agenda theory asserts a close relationship between how the media presents topics and issues and the order of these issues to the public. The media prioritizes the news by giving particular importance to these issues and making them a priority for the public’s concerns. The current paper discussed the analysis of political issues presented by the CNN news channel to determine the order of the media and (public agenda). The research analyzed all political news published on CNN’s Facebook page for a week and conducted a field study on a convenience sampling of 500 individuals who follow the news channel on Facebook. The study found a statistically significant relationship between CNN’s follow-up and the degree of interest in political issues. It also found a correlation between setting the political issues on CNN and their arrangement among the respondents.
Agenda research studied how the public builds its perceptions about a particular issue. There are still questions about the role of the media in making the public’s agenda, especially after the emergence of social media platforms. The researchers indicated the need for more tests of the agenda hypotheses and their applications in digital media. They added some variables, including selective exposure, personal connection to the issue, and the media’s credibility. Some media literature has found that setting the agenda is reciprocal between traditional and new media, affecting the other. It becomes difficult to separate them to see who starts setting the agenda; the audience for digital media is diverse and individual. This makes measuring the agenda challenging in the new media platforms, which have recently become a leader in arranging the audience’s agenda, as in their leadership of the Arab Spring revolutions in the Middle East, from which traditional media later derived their media agenda. Teter (2018) found that the role of the media will increase with the rise of broadcasting channels on the same topics, thus affecting the public agenda. The current paper seeks to answer the main research question: What are the similarities and differences between CNN’s media agenda and the public agenda on the Facebook page?
Many studies emphasize the role of television channels in directing the public towards specific issues so that these issues become a priority for the public’s attention. Then, setting the agenda for the people is one of the most prominent functions that the media performs in society. Over time, the media agenda becomes consistent with the public agenda. Therefore, the focus of news channels on a political issue gives this issue particular importance. It occupies an essential place in the order of public priorities, as it motivates the audiences to discuss this issue and form attitudes towards it.
Considering the development of communication technology, it has become necessary to study the role of communication between people in arranging the agenda. “Although some studies have explored how mass and interpersonal communication interact in the agenda-setting process, the results are scattered” (Chung et al., 2021, p.1). So, the current research discusses how the priorities of political issues are formed in the public’s minds when people integrate into media and interpersonal communication simultaneously, as in the case of interacting with political issues on social media. Also, it will study the arrangement of the political issues agenda for CNN on its official Facebook page and examine how people communicate and interact.
Significance of the Study
The importance of the study stems from several considerations:
First, the research is concerned with analyzing and prioritizing political issues based on the variable role of news channels and seeks to test the agenda theory in the digital media age.
Second, there is a lack of studies prioritizing political issues through news channels; therefore, this study complements previous studies in this field. Third, there is a lack of studies that deal with the integration of mass communication and interpersonal communication in the application of the hypotheses of the agenda theory. Fourth, studying the impact of interaction on Facebook on prioritizing political issues among the Public. Ritter (2020) recommended searching for new trends in agenda-setting research, especially after the Internet changed the process of publishing news to set the agenda to determine what is worthy of publication.
Purpose of the Study
This study aims to clarify some purposes related to content analysis study and others related to field study:
- Analysis of the political issues published by CNN during the study period.
- Analysis of the arrangement of the political issues agenda in CNN.
- Identify how the public interacts with the political issues published on CNN and Facebook.
- Identify the impact of the interaction between mass and personal communication in setting the agenda.
- Recognize the impact of users’ comments on prioritizing the issues through the amount and frequency of comments.
- Identify how Facebook users are exposed to political news on CNN.
- Monitoring the effects of exposure to CNN on setting the agenda of followers on Facebook.
Researchers are interested in studying the news sites, their speed in publishing news compared to printed newspapers, and their ability to influence public opinion. In contrast, others focus on agenda theory to compare theoretical assumptions between traditional and digital media. The new phase of media technology has contributed to conducting more research to test the hypotheses of the agenda theory in the era of digital communication and to know the impact of social media platforms on the arrangement of the media agenda and the public agenda. The literature review aims to discuss, analyze, and interpret research, identify gaps, and identify the most critical findings, suggestions, and recommendations.
News Sites Content Analysis
The researchers studied the news sites’ content on the Internet to know the type of issues concerned with their publication frequency, the extent of public participation and attitudes towards issues, and how to interact with them. Đorđević (2020) examined the comment sections of news sites and used the analytical approach to study 939 comments. Hate speech has serious consequences that affect the socio-cognitive interaction among news commentators. This study applied to analyze readers’ comments on news websites as a new style of writing that reflects the ideas that readers create when exposed to media content.
Engelmann et al. (2021) studied how several factors influence users’ exposure to news (e.g., conflict and ruling elites) as well as some aspects of news (e.g., image, status, and recency). News users are interested in selecting headlines that contain prominent news items. Therefore, readers have the opportunity to form individual opinions on community issues, so newsrooms can keep track of articles that attract readers. Journalists’ monitoring of audience preferences may lead to a (new) shift in news production and editing by moving from journalistic relevance to audience relevance standards. Esau et al. (2017) investigated the best ways to enhance discussion among online users by examining factors such as moderation, asynchronous discussion, topic identification, and availability of information. The authors compared different news platforms (Facebook news pages, news forums, news sites). They found that a news forum produces rational, serious discussions. Comments on news sites and Facebook also showed good interaction among readers. Jangdal (2021) examined the democratic contribution of political content and digital news materials and analyzed them to discuss priority topics. The results indicate that digital media performs several essential functions: increasing editorial coverage of political issues, providing a more comprehensive range of resources, and facilitating forums for discussion.
Kim et al. (2016) studied the main features of the local news sites that can lead to the operationalization of news sites. The authors analyzed 137 cases, focusing on the positive effects of maintaining local news sites and their role in building local news networks. The authors also found that news sites are an excellent way to promote local journalism, as local institutions can collect and share information everywhere—Ksiazek (2018) aimed to study digital news readers looking for virtual conversations about web news. The study focused on the comment space (as a measure of news sharing), how well discussions are, how the story is formatted (multimedia features), and how journalists participate in news commenting platforms and regulatory comment policies. The study recommended encouraging news organizations to increase user interaction with information.
McInnis et al. (2021) studied the New York Times discussion platform. The results showed the role of intermediaries in activating online chatting. First, moderators carefully monitor the discussions on news sites of low-quality content and are interested in new topics in the comments. Second is the ability to review published news (“secondary censorship”) by evaluating reports published within the news outlet. Third, moderators get to know the audience that regularly interacts with the information. McInnis et al. (2020) examined the role of data visualizations in online discussion. They found that out of 6,525 comments, only 2.4% were visualized in articles. Despite the lack of data visualization in the news, the paper provided examples of how users interact with data visualization. The authors collected and analyzed the news using text classification techniques (texts with data visualization or without). Also, the content of comments included words about correlation and comparisons between data.
Stroud and Duyn (2020) studied users’ behavior on news sites to see how the media affects them. The authors found essential differences between users of news sites (time spent browsing the site, the depth of scrolling for news). The study revealed that online experiments and monitoring of users’ performance could provide an accurate overall picture of actual behavior on news platforms. Vermeer et al. (2020) found that interest in entertainment news on news websites drives the public to pay attention to it, the same idea confirmed by the agenda theory. When the media arranges a specific agenda for issues and topics, the audience adopts the same agenda after a while. It was also found that consumers of news on websites enjoy the power to control information flow over the Internet. Zhang and Hingle (2017) analyzed image and video-rich media trends, social engagement via social media, ad display, and local content ads. They found that the number of videos and photos in the news increased exponentially. The videos also contributed to the spread of television news online. News sites have gradually moved readers’ conversations and interactions from traditional commentary or discussion forums to social media.
The Agenda Setting Background
The idea of the role of journalism in setting the agenda is related to McCombs and Shaw (1972). They used the 1968 U.S. presidential election to examine the relationship between the priority of media issues and these issues in public (McCombs & Valenzuela, 2007). The media agenda is concerned with some issues. Second, this media agenda influences the formation of the public agenda. Finally, the public agenda interacts with policymakers (Littlejohn et al., 2017, p.160). The researchers investigated the influence of the media (the media agenda) on public opinion (the public agenda). The media force’s public opinion to focus on specific issues at the first level. The media repeatedly published the case at the second level to convince the public. The third level assumes that the media agenda moves to the public agenda (Teter, 2018).
The Agenda Theory in the Age of Digital Communication
Scholars of agenda theory studied the priorities of social media audiences to see the impact of mass communication and interpersonal communication on the audience’s agenda. They examined how user feedback affects the importance of the perceived problem to determine whether user feedback increases or decreases agenda-setting effects. Billard (2019) investigated the relationship between the setting of the traditional media agenda and the digital news agenda on online news sites. The results indicated that online digital news sources build the audience’s agenda in contemporary digital media. Digital coverage in news platforms has also led to changes in traditional press coverage on some issues, while press coverage has contributed to news placements’ coverage of other topics.
Chris (2021) explored how audiences “integrate” their news agenda from various sources. The author focused on the most popular issues in American society: government, politicians, health care, and immigration. The results found that audiences with different ideologies and ideas have identical agendas. Also, there was a similarity between the media’s agendas from various resources, except for economic issues. Harder et al. (2017) analyzed the “news story” content on media platforms. They found that news websites and Twitter are prominent in setting the agenda.
In contrast, traditional media (newspapers) have fewer opportunities to publish because they are less quick to cover news than news websites. Therefore, their ability to set the agenda is limited. The results indicated that speed (or immediacy) contributes to setting an agenda on online platforms. Jennings and Saunders (2019) found that demonstrating the power of protest is shaped by setting an agenda at the right time. Media coverage is necessary to spread awareness of the political and social issues that protest movements support. This explains why news websites continue to cover the protests and put them on the agenda to understand the opportunities for social activities and influence the decision-making agenda in society. Jiang et al. (2021) validated the Network Agenda Setting (NAS) model in diverse social contexts. The results found that there is an impact of NAS on the public’s agendas. There are significant and positive correlations between coverage of news websites and public agenda networks. The study contributed to setting the third-level agenda (the impact of the media agenda on the audience) by analyzing the context of the new NAS model.
McWhorter (2020) found that audiences combine different media agendas to suit their needs and achieve their interaction through group discussion. This process is called “agenda melding.” Incorporating the agenda includes the function of “need for direction” in a social context to discuss issues with others. There is a symbiotic relationship between traditional and social media platforms that allows each other to influence their news agendas. Stern et al. (2020) studied the role of agenda theory in analyzing the influence of various news sources on each other and how this affects the increase in the amount of information presented to the public. The results revealed the characteristics of publishing news on the Internet and achieving media interaction between the news platform and the audience by the assumptions of the agenda theory.
Van den et al. (2019) examined the agenda-mediating relationship between traditional newspapers and social media platforms on political reform issues. The results found that the predictions of the agenda theory can be confirmed. Traditional newspapers and social media platforms positively influence each other in the level of interest in political issues. Also, social media is highly effective when setting the agenda in public discussions; However, traditional media is (still) the most effective in setting the agenda. Valenzuela et al. (2017) supposed that the media’s agenda converges with news platforms’ agendas. However, the rise of social media platforms forces this expectation to be reconsidered. There is a positive effect between the journalistic agendas of traditional media and the Twitter platform. The authors provided new insight into the agenda-setting function of social media platforms among news industry professionals.
Data Visualization on Facebook
Data has a significant impact on the design of a visualization approach. Data describes events versus situations, can be seen as markers of situational changes, and characterizes continuity between events (Ward et al., 2015). The current study depends on data collection, analysis, and interpretation through statistical graphics displayed in the research results. Frequencies and correlation coefficients between variables were calculated. All these data are represented through computer-based visualization systems to help people perform tasks more effectively (Munzner, 2014). Therefore, the researchers considered that the process of converting texts into graphs and figures is a crucial stage in the transformation and simplification of information by giving it a digital form, as the technique of digitizing and analyzing materials is easier for texts and cultural studies that move from text to images (Bowen et al., 2013). Reviewing the Literature found that research on the reception of data visualization is scarce, especially concerning interactive and dynamic forms of data visualization in new media (Engebretsen, 2020).
Allen et al. (2019) described a data visualization approach that helps understand and analyze problems and provides complete statistical information. There is a growing need for more statistically accurate approaches to data visualization, so many researchers have advocated using data visualization tools that communicate raw data and statistical relationships between variables transparently. Engebretsen (2020) analyzed how university students interact with data visualizations in digital media to investigate how data visualizations are read and interpreted, including visual, interactive, and animated metaphors. The results found that the time required to display multimedia information was significantly less for video viewers than for readers of static news articles because readable information is more complex than visual information.
Kim et al. (2018) found that recent advances in video usage technology have helped accumulate large amounts of digital media data. The study proposed a unified framework for recording and visualizing media data. Existing media production relies on videos from the primary camera and various supporting data sources (images, light detection, cloud points, witness video camera, HDR imaging, and depth images). Radhakrishnan and Radhakrishnan (2019) focused on understanding the Facebook usage trends of people of different age groups. Critical steps in the analysis included (a) preprocessing the data into a format suitable for easy analysis and (b) visualizing the patterns observed in the data set. Standard visualization techniques include bar graphs and graphs (distribution charts). The preprocessing stage that occurs before the visualization stage is a challenge. Riffe et al. (2021) discussed what makes data helpful for visualization and why it is essential to pursue visualization. Data visualization challenges include age group effects or life path pathways. Innovative approaches have been proposed for visualizing complex data structures within and outside the discipline. Therefore, data visualizations presented in scientific research are often related to the latest technology.
Opportunities or Gaps in the Literature
Literature of news sites focused on analyzing the number of comments and user participation. They ignored the analysis of news content on websites. The agenda research also focused on the issue of elections as a political issue and ignored other political issues such as international political conflicts, political legislation, and decisions of the White House. In contrast, data visualization research focused on the quality of statistical methods used in graphic representation and ignored the application of data visualization in social media content analysis research and social platform user research, which the current study examines.
The research results highlight the intensification of the efforts of employees of news sites to produce high-quality content or attractive designs to influence users’ loyalty. Finally, Literature has revealed that digital news is a part of the public sphere in which political interests play a decisive role. Therefore, it is recommended that future work include testing of different digital platforms, such as mobile phones, computers, and tablets.
Theoretical Contributions to the Current Study
The literature reviews contributed to defining the study’s theoretical framework, formulating research questions, and designing a content analysis form and field survey. They raised an important question: Is the impact of new media on the public weaker or stronger? Studies have found that variables affect the agenda theory, including personal communication through users’ comments, educational level, economic level, and the media’s credibility.
There is compatibility between the media agenda and the audience’s agenda on social media. These variables were used in applying the field study to a sample audience who follows the CNN news website on Facebook. The selective exposure to news contributed to arranging the public’s agenda; Literature added this new variable. The media selects certain information to make it on the public interest list. The audience also chooses the news corresponding to its interests to set its agenda. This variable will be studied in the current study when the audience is asked about the type of content, they follow on the CNN news website on Facebook.
The study seeks to answer a central question that forms the research problem: “What is the role of CNN in prioritizing political issues on its official Facebook page? From this central research question, several sub-questions are derived.
First: The questions of the analytical study:
RQ1: What political issues does CNN present on its official Facebook page?
RQ2: To what extent are the political articles audio or visual media?
RQ3: To what extent are there links within the political news on the CNN website?
RQ4: What is the order of the political issues agenda in the study sample articles?
Second: Field study questions:
RQ1: Learn about the exposure of Facebook users to political news on CNN
RQ2: What are the reasons for viewing the official website of CNN on Facebook?
RQ3: What is the prioritization of political issues for the CNN audience on Facebook?
RQ4: How does the interaction between mass and personal communication affect setting the agenda?
H1. There is a statistically significant correlation between the rate of exposure to the CNN news site and the agenda of political issues among CNN followers on Facebook.
H2. There is a statistically significant correlation between setting the political issues on CNN and the public’s prioritization of political topics.
H3. There is a statistically significant relationship between the demographic factors (gender, age,
educational level) and the interest in political issues.
This study uses quantitative methods in the content analysis of CNN’s page. Also, there is a survey of a sample following CNN on Facebook to explore public agenda-setting.
Participants and Sampling
The study relies on a sample survey approach due to the difficulty of conducting a comprehensive survey of either the news content on CNN or the field survey of the CNN audience on Facebook. There are two ways of data collection tools:
Content analysis of political issues on the CNN website on Facebook to collect, analyze, and interpret the political issue agenda. Content analysis is a set of procedures to transfer discrete information into a structured format that allows analysts to make conclusions.
Questionnaire: The questionnaire tool will collect data from 500 participants who follow CNN on Facebook.
The Study Samples
First: The sample of the analytical study:
Selection of the CNN website on Facebook because it has 39,123,208 followers (CNN, 2022). So, it represents the highest number of followers among other News websites on Facebook. The analytical study for three months. Second: Survey study sample: the questionnaire was applied to a convenience sample of 500 participants who follow the CNN official page on Facebook.
Data Collection Tools
The collection of the scientific material is based on a content analysis tool for a sample of political issues for CNN on Facebook, and the questionnaire tool for a sample of CNN audience on Facebook.
First: The Analytical Study
This section discusses the analytical study results of a sample of political news published on the CNN page on Facebook for three months from 3/01/2023 to 5/30/2023 to know the order of CNN’s media agenda during that period and which political issues came the most repeatedly in publication. The total number of political issues was six published by CNN on its official Facebook page, grouped in the following table.
Table (1) Political Topic Category
|Political Topic Category||Frequencies||%||Order|
|American policy towards Russia||120||0.27||2|
|White House decisions||60||0.13||3|
|Preparing for primaries elections||40||0.09||4|
|Riots in Capitol on January 6||30||0.07||5|
|Biden’s trip to Europe||20||0.04||6|
The previous table shows that the most political issues in the content analysis sample are the issue of the “Russian invasion of Ukraine,” which came in 0.4 % of the total political issues published on the CNN page on Facebook. Followed by “The U.S. policy towards Russia” with 0.27 %, and in the third order “White House decisions” regarding immigration, hate crimes, taxes, and environmental protection laws with 0.13%. The political news about “Biden’s visit to Europe” after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine fell to a small percentage of 0.04% because this visit just took a few days. The global interest in the “Russian invasion of Ukraine” and its repercussions on the world’s people politically and economically made CNN focus on publishing this issue compared to other political issues.
Figure (1) Political Topic Category
Note: The distribution of political issues according to their frequency
2-D Pie Data visualization illustrates the parts of the whole and clarifies the numbers in their relationships with the total, which is always 100%. The results can be easily understood by dividing the circle into parts. The most significant part, 40%, is CNN’s coverage of the news of “The Russian-Ukrainian war”, followed by the orange side of “The U.S. policy towards Russia” after announcing political and economic sanctions on it by 27%, then decisions. The White House is on the gray side with 13%. It is a simplified graphic illustrating the order of the most frequent news agenda on CNN on Facebook
Table (2) Political Sources Category
|Political Sources Category||Frequencies||%|
|Same media institution||300||66.7|
|The author of the article||150||33.3|
The previous table shows the sources of political news. The news category from “the same media institution” came first with 66.7%. The “article author” category is followed in the second order, with a rate of 33.3%. In contrast, the analytical sample did not represent the other categories (correspondent, news agencies, without a source). This means that CNN relies on its news and reports on employees of its media organization without resorting to other sources. This result may differ if the period of the analytical study was on a larger sample of political news.
Figure (2) Political News Sources
Table (3) Methods used in publishing political issues
|Techniques used in posting political issues||Frequencies||%|
|Present information and analysis||290||64.4|
|Determine the causes of the political issue||70||15.6|
|Present results and reports||60||13.3|
|Suggesting solutions to solve the political issue||30||0.07|
The previous table shows the techniques used by CNN in publishing political news. CNN was primarily concerned with “presenting information in the news and analyzing it,” with a percentage of 64.4%. It provided information on the size of the losses incurred in Ukraine and the suffering inflicted on civilians there. In the second order, “determine the causes of the political issue,” By explaining the motives of the Russian war, this category comprised 15.6%. In the third order, “providing results and reports” by 13.3%, where the percentage of this category decreased. So, most of the content focuses on reports that analyze the current situation and write about mere perceptions or expectations about the war. Finally, the category of “proposing solutions to solve political issues” has declined.
Figure (3) Techniques used in publishing political issues
Techniques for publishing political news have been illustrated using a clustered bar chart compares values across a few categories and is used when there are differences between the categories; the graph shows the most popular category in the sample, “information and analysis,” and the last category, “suggests solutions to political problems.”
Table (4) The Direction of Presenting Political Issues
|The Direction of presenting political issues||Frequencies||%|
|Positive (demanding a solution to the case)||140||0.31|
|Negative (focusing on the negative aspects of the topic)||210||0.47|
The previous table shows the trend of CNN in presenting political issues. The negative trend represented in focusing on the negative aspects of the subject came in the first order with a percentage of 0.47%. In contrast, the positive trend supported the “White House decisions” and “America’s policy towards Russia’ and demanded more sanctions on Russia to end the war with a percentage of 0.31%. And in the third order came the category of “undefined direction” by a small percentage. In contrast, the “neutral direction” category fell to the last order by 0.09%. This is due to CNN’s mixing of news and reports. The news was linked to the analysis element, which moved it away from neutrality in raising the political issue and pushed it to align more with CNN’s political orientations, locally or globally.
This result differs from the study of Abdel Muti (2016), who found that the positive trend in providing news came in the first order, followed by the unspecified direction in the second order, which may be due to the difference in the quality of news between the two studies. Economic news may need a more positive trend in writing about it to suggest solutions to solve economic crises.
At the same time, the current research focuses on political issues. It is impossible to focus on positive aspects, especially during the war that caused various countries’ crises.
Figure (4) The Direction of Presenting Political Issues
A Pie chart is used to show the proportions of a whole; use it to show numbers that relate to a larger sum and always equal 100%. The biggest part is negative, with the orange color at 47%, and the second is positive at 31%.
Table (5) The Form of Political Issues
|The Form of Political Issues||Frequencies||%|
|Article and analysis||120||0.27|
The previous table shows the forms of political issues. The form of “reports” came first with a percentage of 0.55%, followed by “article and analysis” with a ratio of 0.27%. “The news” came in third place with a low rate of 0.18%, which means that CNN focused on the form of reports in writing news to add the opinions and attitudes of the political channel; this explains the reason for its departure from neutrality in the news sample under study. It was also noted that the news site did not publish any press investigation during the study sample period. This result differs from the result of Abdel Muti (2016), who found that the “news category” came first. Then, in the “article category” in the second order, the journalistic forms differ from one news site to another according to their political orientation in terms of their focus on news or reports.
Figure (5) The Form of Political Issues
Table (6) News Features
|Category of Titles||Frequencies||%|
|More than one subtitle||180||0.29|
The previous table shows that all news included headlines” main titles” by 0.71%, followed by “using more than one subtitle” by 0.29%. The news had many sub-headings to provide historical background on the political issue or explain some of its dimensions and details. Also, the news did not include “secondary titles,” perhaps due to the difference between website news and printed newspapers in which “secondary titles” are allowed. This result is consistent with Abdel Muti (2016), who found that news headlines came in the first order. In contrast, the current study results differed concerning the secondary news category, which came in second order in the study of Abdel Muti, while this category was not represented in the current study sample.
Figure (6) Category of Titles
The previous figure shows the difference between headlines and subheadings in the new content.
Table (7) News Features
|Other photos (Maps, Graphs)||50||0.11|
The previous table shows the category of “news photos” published about news events, which came in the first order with a rate of 0.65%, as most of the photos included the events of war and destruction in Ukraine. In comparison, personal photos came in second with 0.24%. This category was associated with pictures of political figures such as Biden, European Union leaders, Putin and Zelensky. In the third order, “the pictures of maps and graphs” about the cities Russia controlled in the war by 0.11%. Also, the current study did not witness any representation of caricatures in the news published on CNN. This means that websites are not interested in caricatures compared to paper newspapers. This result agrees with Abdel Muti (2016) that news photos came first, followed by personal pictures of political leaders in the second order.
Figure (7) The Highlight of the News Site
The previous figure shows the large area occupied by blue “news photos,” representing 65% of the other categories, followed by “personal photos” in orange with 24%.
Table (8) Multimedia Category
The previous table shows that all political news in the study sample contained texts, while the proportion of images, videos, and geometric shapes varied from one report to another. The category of pictures within the news came in at 0.28%, followed by the video category at 0.26%, then geometric shapes with a small percentage of 0.05%; this means that the news sample of the study did not focus on visualizing the data in its coverage of political news. These results support the finding of Ware (2018) that targeted and concise messages related to video news content should convey the main points of a news story and provide readers with information quickly.
Zhang and Hingle (2017) also found that the number of photos and videos has increased significantly on online T.V. news sites due to their ability to disseminate news quickly. This explains why CNN uses videos and pictures in political news content.
Figure (8) Multimedia Category
Table (9) Interactive Elements Category
|Interactive Elements Category||F||%|
|Related pages (suggest the link of associated pages within the article)||370||0.54|
|Assistance services (save media material and print it or send it to a friend)||0||0|
|Participation in published content||30||0.04|
|Comment below the article||0||0|
|Contact the editor on (Facebook, Twitter)||280||0.41|
The previous table shows that the category of ” related pages ” is the most frequent interaction with the audience at 0.54%, followed by the category of contact with the editor at 0.04%, where most news reports provide this service to communicate with readers and obtain feedback. While “participation in published content” came by a small percentage of 0.04%, this may be due to CNN’s allocation of this service through Facebook only and not through the news site. The news of the study sample did not contain the benefits of saving or printing topics and commenting on them. As a result of the development of mass communication, news sites need to use more than one method to interact with the audience. Ware (2018) recommended making social sharing tools available online, with the need to design automated social sharing tools on news sites to gain new readers and maintain followers.
Figure (9) Interactive Elements
The previous figure shows the high percentage of links within the pages and communication with the editor compared to other categories. This means CNN needs to activate other interaction elements with users to attract more visitors to the news site.
Table (10) Interactive With the Political Issue
|The Political Issue||Like||Comments||Share|
|American policy towards Russia||26.902||0.22||14.255||0.33||1.644||0.13|
|White House decisions||21.520||0.18||5210||0.12||414||0.03|
|Riots in Capitol on January 6||13.164||0.11||2.942||0.07||198||0.016|
|Biden’s trip to Europe||4400||0.37||1656||0.39||104||0.008|
|Preparing for primaries elections||3049||0.03||1828||0.04||59||0.004|
The previous table shows the order of the CNN news agenda, which was homogeneous with the public agenda in general concerning the level of public participation and interaction with the news, where the most frequently published news was the same as the news that received the most comments and shares from the audience. This result is consistent with Boukes (2019), who found that the media agenda is compatible with the political and public agendas in the media age concerning the issue of elections. Also, Harder et al. (2017) found that news websites have a tremendous ability to set the agenda for the public due to their speed in publishing news compared to traditional media. The news of the Russian invasion came first in the likes, comments, and shares, followed by the news of the U.S. policy towards Russia, which also gained the public’s attention after repeatedly publishing it on the news site. On the other hand, public participation rates about “Biden’s trip” and “preparing for elections” decreased due to low publications. This made the public feel that it was less important than the issues that CNN focused on publishing, confirming the agenda theory’s hypotheses.
Figure (10) The Number of Likes on Facebook
The previous chart shows the importance of issues to the public and their admiration for the news content. The news of the Russian invasion of Ukraine came to the fore in the media agenda of CNN, followed in the following position by the trends of U.S. policy towards Russia. The increased number of likes may be due to this news repetition, which made users realize it was essential and increased their interaction. This confirms the hypotheses of the agenda theory and coincides with the research results that clarified the reasons for selective exposure to specific news on sites. Engelmann et al. (2021) found that users read all headlines first and then pay more selective attention to headlines that contain topics related to their interests. This explains why “likes” increased among the participants on Facebook who followed the news of the “Russian invasion of Ukraine,” which directly affected their lives through the rise in oil and food prices.
Figure (11) The Number of Comments on Facebook
The previous figure shows that the most frequent comments came on the issue of the “Russian invasion of Ukraine,” followed by “the U.S. policy towards Russia” and then “the decisions of the White House.” This is the same order as the media agenda for the CNN news site. There is homogeneity between the media and public agendas regarding users’ comments on Facebook. McInnis et al. (2021) point to the importance of Facebook comments, which can help journalists prepare reports from the “pulse of the community” to identify emerging topics and bring together multiple perspectives in a discussion to strengthen the community.
Figure (12) The Number of Shares on Facebook
The previous figure shows that most user participation was focused on the “Russian invasion of Ukraine” category with 80%, followed by “the U.S. policy towards Russia” category in the second order with 13%. This coincides with the arrangement of the CNN agenda in publishing news. This result confirms the homogeneity of the media agenda with the agenda of the public, which interacts with the same political news that CNN focuses on publishing. This finding is consistent with Ware (2018), which found that reader engagement with news stories has become more critical for the penetration of the T.V. news industry into social media platforms.
Second: The Field Study
This part reviews the field study results on a sample of 500 participants on the CNN Facebook page to view the data visualization by knowing the frequency of views and follow-ups on political issues on the news site. The field study questions included the following:
What are the reasons for pursuing political issues?
What is the trend of CNN toward political issues?
What is the degree of your interest in political issues?
What is the order of the priority of political issues?
What is the assessment of the role of CNN in presenting political issues?
Table (11) The Demographic Characteristics of the Respondents
|The Age||Less than 30 age||50||0.1||500||100%|
|30 to less than 40||100||0.2|
|40 to less than 50||150||0.3|
|More than 50||200||0.4|
|The Education level||High school||150||0.3||500||100%|
The previous table shows the percentage of males is 0.6% of the sample study. As for the age category, the group over 50 came in first place with a percentage of 0.4%, meaning they are the most closely watched political issue. The “bachelor’s degree” level came first in the educational level category with 0.5%, followed by the “High school” category with a percentage of 0.3%. This result differs from Bergström and Belfrage (2018), who found that young people are more likely to follow news on social media.
Table (12) CNN Follow-up on Facebook
|CNN follow-up on Facebook||F||%|
The previous table shows that the “medium follow-up” category has the highest percentage of CNN follow-up on Facebook at 0.26%, and “high follow-up” followed in second order by 0.22%. While “very high” and “low category” came in the third order at 0.18%. The following figure shows the differences between viewing degrees.
Table (13) Hours of Following CNN on Facebook Daily
|Hours of following CNN on Facebook daily||F||%|
|Less than an hour||180||0.36|
|From an hour to less than two hours||140||0.26|
|From two hours to less than three hours||120||0.24|
|Three hours or more||60||0.12|
The previous table shows that the ” Less than an hour ” category has the highest percentage of hours, following CNN on Facebook at 0.36%, and ” two hours to less than three hours ” followed in second-order by 0.26%. While” Three hours or more” came at the last order. This finding confirms the researchers’ idea of selective exposure, whereby audiences only read news related to their interests and don’t spend much time on the news site (Camaj, 2019). The following figure shows the differences between viewing degrees.
Table (14) Reasons to follow CNN on Facebook
|Reasons to follow CNN on Facebook||F||%|
|Immediate and fast updates in providing information||140||0.28|
|Depth in explaining and interpreting political issues||90||0.18|
|Availability of participation and interaction||90||0.18|
|Easy to access the website||60||0.12|
|Offer multiple opinions||50||0.1|
|Characterized by honesty and objectivity||50||0.1|
The previous table shows that the ” immediate and fast updates in providing information ” category has the highest percentage of reasons to follow CNN on Facebook at 0.36%, and ” depth in explaining and interpreting political issues ” and “availability of participation and interaction” followed in second order by 0.18%. This finding is consistent with Bergström and Belfrage (2018), who found that consumers of daily news on social media rely on this content to keep them informed of current affairs. While” characterized by honesty and objectivity” and “offer multiple opinions” came late at 0.1%.
Table (15) The Favorite Content
|The Favorite content||F||%|
The previous table shows that the ” politics content ” category has the highest percentage of reasons to follow CNN on Facebook at 0.42%. “Sports content” followed in second order by 0.18%; maybe this result is related to the global concern of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which leads people to follow political issues. This result differs from Bergström and Belfrage (2018), who found that users like to follow the light news on social media platforms. The difference between the two studies came from the sample age because most of the sample in the current study were more than 50 years old, so they are more interested in political content.
Table (16) The Degree to Follow Political Issues on CNN
|The degree to follow the political issues on CNN||F||%|
The previous table shows that the ” medium ” category is the highest percentage. The degree to follow political issues on CNN is 0.26%, and ” low” in second order by 0.18%; this means that viewing CNN ranges between medium and low. This may be due to the desire of users to follow more than one source of news, so they do not condense their time to one news site. This result is consistent with Harder et al. (2017), which found that users search for their agenda in multiple mediums.
Table (17) Reasons for Pursuing Political Issues
|Reasons for pursuing political issues||F||%|
|Identifying the most important political problems and issues||140||0.28|
|Dealing with political events and their developments||140||0.28|
|Monitoring political events locally and globally||130||0.26|
|Understand the current international system||90||0.18|
The previous table shows that ” identifying the most important political problems and issues ” and “dealing with political events and their developments” are the highest percentage of reasons for pursuing political issues on CNN at 0.28%, and ” monitoring political events locally and globally” in second order by 0.26%. At the same time, “understand the current international system” came last at .018%. This reflects the audience’s desire to know the most crucial topic to discuss with the others.
Table (18) The Trend of CNN Toward Political Issues
|The trend of CNN toward political issues||F||%|
The previous table shows that the ” positive trend” is the highest percentage of the trend of CNN toward political issues at 0.3%, and the ” negative trend” in the second order at 0.28%. While the “neutral trend” came last at 0.28%. CNN needs to be more objective towards the issues. This result differs from the analytical study, which found that the “negative trend” came first, followed by the “positive trend” and “neutral trend.” The negative trend related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine is that CNN has a negative attitude toward the war. While the positive direction is associated with “U.S. policy towards Russia” and “White House decisions,” CNN supports these issues in the news sample.
Table (19) The Degree of Interest in Political Issues
|The Political Issues||F||%||Order|
|The Russian invasion of Ukraine||50||0.31||1|
|Conflict in the Middle East||9||0.05||6|
|White House decisions on immigration||23||0.14||5|
|White House decisions on oil reserves||19||0.12||3|
|U.S. policy towards Russia||28||0.18||4|
|Political sanctions against Russia||31||0.19||2|
The previous table shows that the” Russian invasion of Ukraine” came in the first order at 0.31% of the total political issues, and “political sanctions against Russia” came in the second order at 0.19%, followed by “U.S. policy towards Russia” by 0.18%. These results are consistent with the analytical study that found these political issues published on the CNN website on Facebook. This means that the media agenda affected the public agenda; these findings are consistent with Matusitz and Ochoa (2018), who found that the more media coverage of specific issues, the more prominent these issues become with the public.
Table (20) The Assessment of the CNN in Presenting Political Issues
|The Assessment of CNN||F||%|
The previous table shows that the ” good performance ” is the highest percentage of the assessment of CNN in presenting political issues at 0.44%, and the ” moderate performance ” in the second order at 0.3%. At the same time, the “poor performance” came last at .0.26%. This result related to the reasons for following CNN in (Table 17) when the respondents referred to “identifying the most important political problems and issues” as the first reason for following CNN. This justification is why 0.44% evaluate CNN as a “good performance.”
Figure (13) The Assessment of the Role of CNN in Presenting Political Issues
Table (21) The Extent of CNN’s Coverage of Political Issues
|The size of CNN’s coverage of political issues||F||%|
The previous table shows that the size of CNN’s coverage of political issues is “enough” and is the highest percentage of the assessment of CNN in presenting political issues at 0.44%. This result is consistent with (Table 20) which found that ” good performance ” came first. While the coverage of political news is “somewhat sufficient” and “not enough” at 0.28% Finally, the respondents provide some suggestions for developing CNN’s performance in addressing political issues, Commitment to objectivity in covering local and international events; Separate news from opinion; Accuracy in providing information; Diversity in the form of presenting news and not only in the form of the report; Allocate space to comment and share opinions under each article; Providing the services of sending the article to a friend or printing it.
The Test Hypotheses
H1. There is a statistically significant correlation between the rate of exposure to the CNN news site and the agenda of political issues among CNN followers on Facebook.
The hypothesis test results found the validity of the first hypothesis, “there is a statistically significant relationship between the rate of exposure to the CNN news and the agenda of political issues,” at the significance level of 0.05. The value of the Pearson correlation coefficient was 0.85, which is a strong direct correlation between the two variables: the independent (following CNN) and the dependent variable (the degree of interest in political issues). The following figure shows the data visualization of the relationship between the two variables.
Figure (14) The Relationship Between Following CNN and the Interest in Political Issues
H2. There is a statistically significant correlation between setting the political issues on CNN and the public’s prioritization of political topics.
The results of the hypothesis test found the validity of the Second hypothesis: “There is a statistically significant relationship between setting the political issues on CNN and their arrangement among the respondents at the level of significance of 0.05, and the value of the Pearson correlation coefficient reached 0.63, which is a medium correlation between the two variables: the independent (the setting of political issues in CNN) and the dependent variable (setting the political issues among the respondents), the following figure shows the data perception of the relationship between the two variables.
H3. There is a statistically significant relationship between the demographic factors (gender, age, educational level) and the interest in political issues.
As for the third hypothesis, “there is a statistically significant relationship between the rate of respondents’ interest in political issues according to different demographic variables (gender, age, education). The results indicated a weak direct correlation between the variable of interest in political issues and gender at the significance level of 0.05, where the Pearson correlation coefficient was 0.08. The following figure shows the data visualization of the relationship between the two variables.
Figure (15) The Relationship Between Interest in Political Issues and Gender
The results showed a strong correlation between (respondents’ interest in political issues) and the variable (age), where Spearman’s correlation coefficient between the two variables was 0.8, which means that age affects the degree of interest in political issues, the higher the age, the greater the interest in political issues.
Figure (16) The Relationship Between the Interest in Political Issues and Age
As for the education variable, the relationship between interest in political issues and education was 0.20 – a weak inverse relationship. The higher the level of education, the less interest in political issues was. Thus, the third sub-hypothesis was not proven to be true concerning the level of education.
Figure (17) The Relationship Between the Interest in Political Issues and Education
Suggestions for Further Research
Given the limited sample and the time available for the study, it is recommended to study several other variables that may influence the formation of the audience’s agenda through new media, namely opinion leaders on social media, influencers, and audiences who create content, which has become the role of the media in setting the agenda. The media, as well as the media gatekeeper in the new media? Is it still influential in choosing the news and focusing on specific content without the other? Considering the emergence of blogs and their freedom in writing and analysis, there is still a need for further research on these variables in the new media environment.
CNN’s news agenda aligns with the general agenda regarding audience engagement and interaction with the news. The most famous news is the same news that got the most comments and shares from the audience. The hypothesis test results concluded a statistically significant relationship between CNN follow-up and the degree of interest in political issues” at a significance level of 0.05. The value of Pearson’s correlation coefficient was 0.85, and there was also a statistically significant relationship between placing political issues on CNN and their arrangement among respondents at a significant level. 0.05, and the value of the Pearson correlation coefficient was 0.63, which is an average correlation between the two variables. Also, there is a statistically significant relationship between the status of political issues on CNN and their arrangement among respondents, and the value of the Pearson correlation coefficient was 0.63.
As for the third hypothesis, it was found that there is a statistically significant relationship between the rate of respondents’ interest in political issues according to different demographic variables (gender, age, education). The results indicated a weak direct correlation between the variable of interest in political issues and gender at the significance level of 0.05, where the Pearson correlation coefficient was 0.08. In contrast, the results showed a strong correlation between (respondents’ interest in political issues) and the variable (age), where Spearman’s correlation coefficient between the two variables was 0.8, which means that age affects the degree of interest in political issues. As for the education variable, the relationship between interest in political issues was 0.20 – a weak inverse relationship. The higher the level of education, the less attention is paid to political issues.
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