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  • Writer's pictureSequoia Powell

You Stay Classy, Palm Beach

As a Palm Beach County resident, I can tell you firsthand that the news is filled with more than just sunny skies. In fact, ever since Donald Trump became President, it's mostly stories about him coming into town or his latest tweets.

After watching a local news station, WPTV News Channel 5, I realized that the agenda-setting theory is utilized throughout their entire broadcast. Each story strategically placed to influence the public's opinion on what is most essential. As a result, these stories are the topic of discussion amongst residents. Just think about it. How many times do you bring up stories you viewed on the news with your coworkers? Well, there is a logic behind that.

Don't believe me? Just take a look at these headlines from WPTV News Channel 5 from earlier this week, and then allow me to break it down for you.

So, let's start with the first story, which covers the debate of whether the face mask mandate in Martin County should end or not. The news channel strategically kicked off with this story, priming the public to believe that this story should be our primary take away from today's headlines and that it is most important. To be honest, I think this story is essential because we all know that masks are a hot topic right now. Plus, now that the Governor of Florida has moved the state into Phase 3, where all COVID-19 restrictions and fines have been released, it is up to the counties to enforce mask mandates.

The next headline is regarding the upcoming presidential election. The news station begins the campaign coverage with Joe Biden's forthcoming visit to South Florida. They chose to highlight Biden's goal to encourage seniors to vote for him. Then they switch over to (mask-less) President Trump at his rally in Sanford, emphasizing that this was the first rally since his COVID-19 diagnosis. WPTV purposely decided to share just enough information about the candidates' movements to stir up a conversation between residents.

Later in the actual broadcast, the anchors discuss mail-in ballots, which we all know is a hot subject right now. This story is an excellent example of framing because of the way the segment is written. The newscasters use words like "trying to keep up" and "get caught up," which can be interpreted by viewers as a possible issue with the voting count. As a result, voters may feel less inclined to vote by mail or, worse, continue to distrust the voting system. And, Lord knows, we have enough issues here in Florida as it is.

If these aren't proof of agenda-setting, I don't know what is.

You stay classy, Palm Beach!

Until next time, peace! ✌️

xo, Sequoia

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