Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 20

Percentage of population using a medium 50 45 40 Evolving Roles of Traditional and Social Media as Agenda Setters Just as the rise of unmanned drones has caused a need for the military to alter battlefield strat30 egies, so too has the emergence of 25 social media resulted in a need for the military to change communica20 tion strategies that previously relied 15 on traditional media. For example, Army leaders now use tweets as 10 well as the New York Times as part 5 of their public communications planning (or they should). 0 Newspaper Television Mobile Online Twitter Social Media To help Army leaders develop Types of media effective communication strategies in a changing media environment, Age 65+ 50-64 40-49 30-39 25-29 18-24 Groups this article briefly discusses the types of media audiences use, the ways audiences combine (meld) Figure 1. Media Use by Age them, and the ways those meAgenda Setting with Regard to dia influence audiences to select Specific News Topic Levels issues they regard as being important. Additionally, it Scholars studying agenda setting have established that concludes with five recommendations to help Army the media, in addition to focusing community interest leaders communicate with and influence their organion broad issues in news coverage, also effectively highzations and the public. light specific aspects of those issues.4 For example, if there was a front-page news story about Iran that focused Challenges to Effective on an Iranian effort to build a nuclear weapon and also Communication Strategies mentioned the effects of trade restrictions on Iran, then Because it takes many years to climb the leadership audiences probably would say, when asked, that Iran was ladder, senior leaders of any organization are usually an important topic in the news. If pressed why, they likely older, and often are somewhat established in their leadwould go on to cite the Iranian nuclear program and the ership styles—to include the ways they communicate effects of trade restrictions, since both were mentioned with subordinate members of their organizations and prominently in the news story. This illustrates what some external audiences they deem essential. One common scholars call the exchange with audiences of general or characteristic is that many such senior leaders prefer main topics as agenda setting level 1. The exchange with one-way traditional media (such as newspapers or audiences of story details is an example of agenda setting magazines) together with other vertical (top-down) level 2. (Research into these areas has also produced some communication strategies, thinking they can set instievidence suggesting that the media do influence how auditutional agendas for their subordinates once and for all. ences think about the subtopics and subissues they present.) Such traditional communications mainly go in one Consequently, a list of the major issues covered by direction: from source to audience, from leader to newspapers, television, and other major media—now subordinates, from one to many. These traditional meincluding social media—likely would be highly cordia, like daily newspapers and television news, strive related with issues listed by their audiences. to reach a large, diverse audience but attempt to do so 18 35 November-December 2015  MILITARY REVIEW