We discussed agenda-setting in CMMNA100 this week.
Agenda-setting is one of several contemporary media effects theories that understand the influence of mass media as subtle, indirect, and, over the long term, quite powerful. The catch-phrase for agenda-setting theory: The media don’t tell us what to think; they tell us what to think about. This happens as a result of media sources, particularly news organizations, presenting basically the same topics of interest — an “agenda” — in which a more diverse (and accurate) view of the world is distorted and transformed.
With agenda-setting in mind, I am as often curious about the stories the news media don’t cover as the stories they do — particularly during large-scale media events such as the recent NFC championship football game in New Orleans. Here, for instance, are three Saints-related stories that might well have deserved more coverage than they received.
1. NFL playoff team revenues.
Yes, there is some coverage and commentary on this, but you have to do a little searching to find it. For instance, look here.
Apparently, the revenue stream for NFL teams during the playoffs is very different from that revenue stream during the regular season. In fact, there may actually be economic incentives for some NFL teams NOT to make the playoffs. How all this is pertinent to the Saints payroll and Tom Benson’s financial future remains unclear, however, because I just couldn’t find anything about it.
2. Who owns WhoDat?
On the Friday before the NFC championship game, the NFL issued a cease-and-desist order to a local business regarding the use and ownership of the “WhoDat” phrase. Lauren Thom (Twitter’s @FleurtyGirl) produces and sells a series of Louisiana-themed t-shirts in her uptown store. Among these t-shirts is a “WhoDat” issue bearing the phrase in question and delicately embellished with a small gold fleur-de-lis. NFL lawyers sent a letter claiming ownership of “WhoDat” and the fleur-de-lis image. According to a local blogger, Ms. Thom caved to the requests in this letter and agreed to 1) quit using the offending WhoDat/fleur-de-lis design, and 2) pay the NFL a 10% cut of the sales of the remaining stock in question.
An interesting story, I thought. But, despite all the rampant rah-rah about the WhoDat Nation, I saw little to nothing about the WhoDat Corporation.
3. Late-night calls from Sean.
Mike Freeman of CBSsports.com published a column on Friday before the NFC Championship game in which he described Sean Payton’s (and the Saints’) relationship with the press as bordering on dictatorial. You can read it here. This story, in particular, piqued my interest, since (if at least some of Freeman’s claims were true) there might be pressure on the local media NOT to give this particular story any attention. But, surely, I thought, the column’s inflammatory potential alone would propel it to the top of the local talk shows’ list of ratings-positive and commonly inflammatory topics. But no, I heard nothing.
Are these three topics interesting? I think so.
Are they newsworthy? Well, in fact, I don’t make that decision, and, as long as there are substantial entry costs to gathering and distributing the news, neither do you.
When will those entry costs decrease? When will the “news” be as easily gathered and distributed by cell phones and social media as by the current cultural institutions of traditional news networks and brands?
Is it now?