Lesson Objectives:- Political advertising
- Gaining news coverage
- Putting spin on the news
- Presidential debates
- Media bias
TV stations look forward to political campaigns. Considering the 2012 presidential election netted $7 billion in advertising revenues, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
The most infamous example of a television ad influencing American voters is the Lyndon B. Johnson ad of a little school girl pulling the petals off of a daisy while the picture zooms closer and closer to her. The next image is of a mushroom cloud exploding. The message was obvious that Lyndon B. Johnson was the only presidential candidate who could save us from impending doom.
While advertising spending can get expensive, news coverage is free. Campaign managers are responsible for ensuring their candidate gets the coverage they need. They have a tough job when it comes to getting the right media coverage, so they make use of certain strategies.
In order to maximize news coverage, the first thing campaign managers do is plan political events. They get the right camera angles and coordinate the perfect timing to meet news deadlines.
Secondly, they grant favors in order to manipulate the networks and reporters into covering the best stories.
Finally, they have to make sure the political events they plan come off as photogenic and interesting enough to make the news.
A goal of every campaign manager is convincing reporters what the truth is concerning the news they cover. That is what is called putting spin on the news.
Spin is an interpretation of political events that is favorable to a candidate or officeholder.
A Spin Doctor is a political adviser who tries to convince journalists of the truth of a particular interpretation of events.
Presidential debates are very important in influencing the minds of voters, but in some ways, it is more advantageous for challengers since it puts them on equal footing with the incumbent. The challenger hopes to catch the incumbent off-guard while the incumbent merely tries to maintain their image with the public.
Presidential debates do not normally attract much attention, but that was not the case in the 2011-2012 presidential race. The Republicans televised 27 debates that gained wide viewership. The goal of most of the candidates in the debates was to make front-runner Mitt Romney seem as if he really was not a conservative at heart. The other candidates fell one-by-one as Mitt Romney shined through the attacks.
When Obama and Romney debated in October of 2012, Obama's strategy was to make Romney look like a wealthy candidate who did not care about the interests of the middle class. Romney persevered and came out of the first debate looking reasonable, compassionate, and moderate. Obama did not do well in that debate, but he performed better in the next two debates and pulled off a win by Election Day.
If a candidate is running for a high office, they are sure to hire an Internet Strategist to manage the website, all social media accounts, podcasts, and even their own email.
In addition to a strategist managing the candidate's web presence, interest groups run their own campaigns. They engage in promoting their positions of interest using their own blogs and social media accounts.
A Blog is a regular updating of one's ideas on a specific Web site. The word comes from Web log.
Blogs have become influential as some of them are viewed as credible sources of information. Blogs can be run by one person with their own ideas, but a growing trend has been towards the collective blog where several writers contribute to the content of the site. As a result, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate a collective blog from an online magazine.
As opposed to the "straight news" that most news sources attempt to present, many blogs are formed to present opinions, even though they may use facts to do it. Likewise, talk radio is a huge medium for presenting opinion.
Talk radio appears to be mainly a conservative platform even though there are a few liberal programs. One distinguishing characteristic of talk radio is that it does not even attempt to portray itself as an actual news source. Personalities on talk radio bring their audiences entertainment in the form of red-meat politics that is often exaggerated.
There has been a consistent contention that liberal bias exists in the mainstream media.
Bias is an inclination or a preference that interferes with impartial judgment.
Studies do show that most journalists consider themselves Democrat on a scale of 3 to 1 compared to journalists who consider themselves Republican. According to a Gallup poll, 47% of respondents think the news is liberal while 13% think it is conservative. However, a direct correlation can be found between the political party of the poll participant and the response they gave.
Beyond obvious political bias in the form of favoring one side over the other, another form of bias is seen when the media tends to only covers stories that have drama and conflict because it attracts viewers. Also, as a candidate starts falling behind in a race, the media coverage tends to become negative.
Journalists have a code that they should live by requiring them to report on the news objectively. However, it is true that they do not always follow this code.
It is common to have a political agenda in the blogosphere, but even some cable news channels regularly practice covering the news with bias. One example was when FOX News refused to report Barack Obama's lead in his presidential race against Mitt Romney.
In spite of the lack of objectivity seen in much of the media today, it is argued that media bias is not as important as it once was because of the wider use of the internet for gathering information. To combat bias, the best solution is to consult a variety of sources of information.