The news media plays an important role in communication. The function of the media in a free society is to inform the public, be a watchdog of government, provide a voice for the voiceless, and help determine which issues should be discussed in the community. The power of the mass media to guide the social agenda and influence the public's perception of what issues are important has been questioned in the digital age. This study examines traditional agenda-setting in the digital era to understand how the theory functions in a computer mediated society. The #MeToo movement acts as a case study for this research. This investigation uses a trend analysis to evaluate whether the public agenda on sexual harassment and #MeToo was set by mass media or social media. This research compares the coverage of sexual harassment and #MeToo in professional online news sites in the U.S. with tweets using the key words and hashtag on Twitter in the United States for ten weeks in 2017. Relying on the agenda-setting theory as a framework, this study clarifies the relationship of mass media and social media in driving public opinion. The findings of this work reveal how the expansion and influence of social media has changed the dynamic of mass communication. Despite those changes, the mass media still plays a prevailing role in setting the public agenda--even in a digital environment. The findings conclude that the mass media set the agenda on the subject of sexual harassment, and social media amplified that agenda. These findings demonstrate the strong role that mass media continues to have in setting the news agenda in conjunction with social media, and consequently, on civic opinion and awareness.



College and Department

Fine Arts and Communications; Communications



Date Submitted


Document Type





agenda setting, mass media, social media, sexual harassment, #MeToo



Included in

Fine Arts Commons