The Agenda Setting in the Digital Age*How We Use Media to Monitor Civic Life and Reframe Community

Donald L. Shaw, Issam S. Mousa, Chris J. Vargo, Milad Minooie


World leaders and citizens alike use a mix of traditional (e.g. newspapers, magazines, radio, and television) and social (e.g. Twitter, and Facebook) media to redefine community in the digital age. Nations confront challenges from collectives that are asserting their voices into national and regional issues. This dynamic change is made possible by modern digital technologies that allow citizens to use a variety of media to find each other, gain social support, and articulate alternative agendas easier than at any time in history. This article, however, argues that traditional media still provide the main national agenda. But that agenda is supplemented, and in some cases even challenged, by alternative agendas persistently offered via social media. The Arab Spring is an example of how alternative agendas challenged the national agenda. This article presents the Agenda Community Attraction formula for measuring the traditional, social and personal agenda correlations. Given the changing dynamic between national and alternative agendas, social systems confront new challenges and opportunities – mainly the need to balance traditional national values with the need to allow a gradual social agenda to enrich individuals. This allows a national evolution that sensitizes and benefits national organizations. The result is gravitation toward a balance between the power of vertical, institutional society, represented by the Pyramid, and the ease and convenience of social media to convey information, such as mobile Papyrus paper allowed. This mixing of vertical power and horizontal challenge is creating a newer form of national organization, the emerging Digital Society. This new society requires more tolerance between leaders and citizens than at any time in history. Communication plays a major role, but not the only one, in this evolution, or revolution, as the case may be.


The Agenda, Digital Age, Civic Life

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