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A Study of Agenda-Setting Theory in Presidential Debates in Mexico’s 2000 Presidential Campaign
Unformatted Document Text:  34 Conclusion The findings of this paper have generally supported agenda setting theory on the Mexico 2000 election. Agenda setting theory states that media influence the salience of events in the public’s mind (McCombs & Shaw, p. 5). Second level agenda setting states that media also sets the agenda attributes, and sometimes media behavior determines voter’s behavior (Nie, Verba, & Petrocik, 1976). For the Mexican 2000 presidential campaign however, it seems that second level agenda setting was also important in setting preferences about candidate attributes, and this was particularly true during the debates, those being media driven events by nature. It seemed that in Mexico, the media focused more on candidate traits than issues. Comments and reports on candidates’ personalities and capacity to govern were widespread in the coverage. Against to the mainstream thinking that media does not play a key role in influencing the public about political choices during campaigns(see Lawson, 2001), during the Mexico’s past presidential election this seemed not to be the case. The Mexico 2000 election did matter in taking the presidency from the 71 year old regime, and setting standards for media involvement in campaigns and in candidate promotion. Following guidelines from first and second level agenda- setting theory, a distinction between issues and image- attributes was made to analyze media reporting of the campaign. At the time of the debates particularly, the image coverage was more prevalent than issue coverage. Also, content of media agenda presented an important relationship with content of debates and public’s agenda. Since debates are the most important media events in the campaign, and since those events are televised, the prevalence of image coverage was to be expected. However, for an election as determinant for democracy as the 2000 election in Mexico,

Authors: Mercado, Antonieta., Hellweg, Susan., Dozier, David. and Hofstetter, C..
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34
Conclusion
The findings of this paper have generally supported
agenda setting theory on the Mexico 2000 election. Agenda
setting theory states that media influence the salience of
events in the public’s mind (McCombs & Shaw, p. 5). Second
level agenda setting states that media also sets the agenda
attributes, and sometimes media behavior determines voter’s
behavior (Nie, Verba, & Petrocik, 1976). For the Mexican 2000
presidential campaign however, it seems that second level
agenda setting was also important in setting preferences about
candidate attributes, and this was particularly true during
the debates, those being media driven events by nature. It
seemed that in Mexico, the media focused more on candidate
traits than issues. Comments and reports on candidates’
personalities and capacity to govern were widespread in the
coverage. Against to the mainstream thinking that media does
not play a key role in influencing the public about political
choices during campaigns(see Lawson, 2001), during the
Mexico’s past presidential election this seemed not to be the
case. The Mexico 2000 election did matter in taking the
presidency from the 71 year old regime, and setting standards
for media involvement in campaigns and in candidate promotion.
Following guidelines from first and second level agenda-
setting theory, a distinction between issues and image-
attributes was made to analyze media reporting of the
campaign. At the time of the debates particularly, the image
coverage was more prevalent than issue coverage. Also, content
of media agenda presented an important relationship with
content of debates and public’s agenda.
Since debates are the most important media events in the
campaign, and since those events are televised, the prevalence
of image coverage was to be expected. However, for an election
as determinant for democracy as the 2000 election in Mexico,


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