Readers’ Comments on Facebook and The Changes in Traditional Agenda Setting Function of Newspapers
Keywords:By-elections, Facebook, online news, reader comments, Malaysia
The article discusses the impact of reader feedbacks on newspapers' conventional agenda-setting role. Due to the decline in printed newspaper distribution and online news subscriptions, changes in the media landscape have led many newspaper agencies to share news content on social networks, mainly Facebook. Furthermore, newspaper readers rely on social media and prefer to read their news online. Almost all newspapers are now targeting their readers via Facebook as an effort to maintain their popularity. As a result, traditional ties between newspapers and their readers are shifting and shaping news's agenda-setting role. The audience comments on over 600 news pieces from major Malay newspapers published during the Malaysian by-elections in Semenyih and Rantau were analysed using content analysis. According to the findings of the research, reading news on Facebook changes the agenda-setting role of news media by enabling readers to join a dialogue in which they can also become meaning-makers. This implies that the role of the news media has evolved to the point of where they are no longer agenda setters, but rather discourse centres, which means that the news media is no longer as powerful in shaping public opinion as readers' sentiments are now influenced by the discourse that goes on in the news comment sections. This necessitates a reconsideration of how the media and politicians can influence public opinion, particularly during election seasons.
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