Media Effect On Presidential Campaign
The mass media communication industry is a multi-billion business. On average, American people watch about 1,550 hours of television, listen about 1,200 hours of radio and spend about 180 hours reading newspapers each year. In 1990s, as the innovation of computer and the Internet started to spread around the world, Internet usage has grown rapidly to play an important role on citizens’ public life. In 2012, the US citizens have spent almost as many hours online as they watch television. Given our media-saturated lives, it is likely to generate most of our attitudes a result of media consumption. Early empirical studies of mass media influence called “agenda setting”, done by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in the 1960s, claimed that “media are able to shape the contents of what the public thinks about specific political figures and events, as well as the importance they assign to specific types of politics and positions.” As a consequence of the awareness of media influence, during 2012 presidential campaign, President Obama and Mitt Romney spent about $2 billion on TV advertising, making it the most expensive election in the US history. Also, the amount of Internet advertising spent on presidential election has increased from $22 million to $159 million from 2008-2012, thereby ensuring most of the online users to see political ad popping up on every website we visit. With so much money spent on political campaign, we have to consider a question that how powerful are the media in actually shaping and changing our attitudes? To further examine the effect of media on public opinion of presidential election, two categories are considered regarding the influence of media: traditional mass media like TV, film, and political advertisement and Internet social media.
As early as 1960s, the empirical study by McCombs and Shaw had proved the influence of traditional mass media. While more...
Cited: Lecture note “The Mass Media”
Ansolabehere and Iyengar, 1995, “Political Advertising”
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