Agenda Setting Theory is first developed by Professor Maxwell McCombs and Professor Donald Shaw in their Chapel Hill study in 1968. The agenda setting theory is separate into three parts which is media agenda, public agenda and policy agenda. Agenda setting theory is defined as the power of news media whereby mass media set an agenda which will influences the public which is called as public agenda by highlighting the issue frequently in media. Therefore the main effect of media in agenda setting is telling people not what to think, but what to think of. The policy agenda is the issues that policy makers consider important after the public start to make campaign or petition to show protest against the organizations.
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A model for the study was constructed based on the Agenda Setting Theory.
A content analysis was conducted on 50 issues of Utusan Malaysia (UM) and Berita Harian (BH). Throughout the studies, it was found that there were 11 major themes frequently used in the BN manifesto namely: politics, foreign policy, development, economy, social education, security, religion, workers welfare, agriculture and the quality of life. Above were the main themes in the news during the general election for the year of study. The content analysis also found that there were 4461 news with the BN manifesto shown in 11 major news themes with “politics” in the lead and the “quality of life” ending the list. It also showed that the BN manifesto was mainly covered in various sections such as the Local News, Foreign News, Special Column, Main Column, Editorial, Advertisement, Economy, Asean, Forum, Articles and others. While the coverage on News, Articles, Photographs, Editorial, Letter to the Editor, Cartoon, Columnist and Comments also showed the present of BN manifesto.
There was also a small difference between the two newspapers in terms of its news coverage on the BN manifesto during the general election. The study clearly showed that the media agenda of the two mainstream newspapers in the country was framed by the content of the BN manifesto during the duration of the general election for the year 1982, 1986, 1990, 1995 and 1999 and