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A Frog in a Well: People's Daily and its Geographic Landscape
Unformatted Document Text:  ICA-2-10365 A frog in a well: People’s Daily and its Geographic Landscape 11 Given the limited space and time provided by mass media, Zhu Jian-hua illustrated the underlying principle of agenda setting as a zero-sum process. “ The addition of any news issue onto the pubic agenda is at the cost of other issues(s) due to the limited carrying capacity” (Zhu, J., 1992). In this sense, the agenda-setting function of mass media is a “double-edged sword”. With dominance of certain unimportant issues to distract public attention, mass media, intentionally or unintentionally, are capable to omit other salient issues from the media scene thus excluding them from public mind. Mass media, claimed to be the mirror of reality, reflects reality but at the same time distorts reality by the virtue of their power to “selectively emphasize and interpret certain themes, value, and events at the expense of others” (Lee 1990). Such distortion is easily manipulated in foreign and international news when the setting is remote and a mediated picture is beyond audience immediate observation and experience. There are two implications erected by Zero-sum theory of agenda setting: first, mass media’s orientation in selecting news origin, so-called news judgment, constitutes an important element in shaping public knowledge if not their opinions. Second, mass media are more capable of legitimizing or de-legitimizing ideas, individuals, and groups simply by including or omitting them from media agenda. Mass media, as a major institution to bestow legitimacy or otherwise deprive it, sometimes grant favored groups positively or disparage the unfavored ones. The latter, at times, are even excluded from the agenda (Chang T.K, 1990). As sociologist Gaye Tuchman contended, news as social construction of reality is “an ally of legitimated institutions and that it also legitimates the status quo” (Tuchman, 1978). Taking into consideration China’s hierarchical media

Authors: Chen, Danielle. and Yan, Xiaoying.
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ICA-2-10365 A frog in a well: People’s Daily and its Geographic Landscape
11
Given the limited space and time provided by mass media, Zhu Jian-hua illustrated
the underlying principle of agenda setting as a zero-sum process. “ The addition of any
news issue onto the pubic agenda is at the cost of other issues(s) due to the limited
carrying capacity” (Zhu, J., 1992). In this sense, the agenda-setting function of mass
media is a “double-edged sword”. With dominance of certain unimportant issues to
distract public attention, mass media, intentionally or unintentionally, are capable to omit
other salient issues from the media scene thus excluding them from public mind. Mass
media, claimed to be the mirror of reality, reflects reality but at the same time distorts
reality by the virtue of their power to “selectively emphasize and interpret certain themes,
value, and events at the expense of others” (Lee 1990). Such distortion is easily
manipulated in foreign and international news when the setting is remote and a mediated
picture is beyond audience immediate observation and experience.
There are two implications erected by Zero-sum theory of agenda setting: first,
mass media’s orientation in selecting news origin, so-called news judgment, constitutes
an important element in shaping public knowledge if not their opinions. Second, mass
media are more capable of legitimizing or de-legitimizing ideas, individuals, and groups
simply by including or omitting them from media agenda. Mass media, as a major
institution to bestow legitimacy or otherwise deprive it, sometimes grant favored groups
positively or disparage the unfavored ones. The latter, at times, are even excluded from
the agenda (Chang T.K, 1990). As sociologist Gaye Tuchman contended, news as social
construction of reality is “an ally of legitimated institutions and that it also legitimates the
status quo” (Tuchman, 1978). Taking into consideration China’s hierarchical media


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