Media and its Influence Essay

This essay has a total of 4086 words and 17 pages.

Media and its Influence

MASS MEDIA POLIT U.S.ICAL CAMPAIGNS
Summary: This is a 14-page paper that discusses the influence of mass media on the way
political campaigns are run. It uses 7 references in MLA format.

On the Monday when the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on whether the
deadline for certifying votes could be extended in Florida, there was an unsettling sight
on TV. News correspondents came flying out of the court and stood, out of breath, before
the cameras. Without having read the six-page ruling, reporters began to talk to millions
of people about what the court had done. Some reporters got it flat wrong, saying the high
court's ruling was in favor of George W. Bush and a defeat for Al Gore. News wire services
and several Web sites also incorrectly summarized the court's action. It was only later
that the news media corrected itself by reporting that the court had simply sent the case
back to the Florida Supreme Court and requested some clarification. Walter Cronkite, the
living legend of TV news, has criticized his profession for having too much of an emphasis
on getting the news out fast. And the Society of Professional Journalists has criticized
the media in the aftermath of these events for failing to act independently in their
reporting on the election...so what is the real role of the media in political campaigns?
Does it report or influence?


INTRODUCTION
One of the most important aspects of political elections is its media presentation. This
is especially enhanced in the United States where the majority of the people are media
thirsty. The important factor that plays on the electoral process is the ability to
promote and set the agenda for the candidate. This comes from the outcome they want from
their campaigns. Most candidates believe that their policy to promote their agenda at the
beginning of the year is never effective because people eventually get tired of watching
their faces and their biographies on the media channels and other mass media distribution.
Hence, it acts negatively on the psychology of the people. Therefore it is imperative that
media must be used in a very contingent manner.

Secondly, the image of the candidate presented in mass media is paid therefore they need
to be effective. Candidates depend on the office of the campaigner to do this. The media
for example gives the power to the candidate to create policy views in a realistic manner
that is meant to attract the attention of the viewer. The imagery, the impression and the
psychological connotation of the ads are all influential, if any of the elements were
missing it would mean that the candidate would lose ground against his / her opponents
(Lawrence 213).

Since most of the media are either free or lowly paid like the news, PR and general
programs, candidates feel they are not presented correctly. IN an effort to bring up their
status among their voters or potential voters, they need impressive ads on television or
extensive campaigns on radio airtime. Therefore in view of their situation mass media is
the best option (Lawrence 213). In this context the need to evaluate the effects of media,
its analysis of the psychological validity as well as financial implication it has on the
overall election result is important. For this purpose the researcher has posit the
following hypothesis for discussion.


HYPOTHESIS STATEMENT
The mass media (political cartoons, print, TV) influences the way political campaigns are
run. Moreover, I believe the effect is more greatly felt in the earlier stages of
campaigns, up to about 2-4 weeks before the election.


DISCUSSION
The following is a detailed investigation why mass media influence the way candidates run their political campaigns.

Evolution of mass media in political campaigns
The evolution of media as a way to inform voters has been age old. In the olden days when
Abe Lincoln was fighting for his own camping it was the newspaper and the caricatures that
attracted the voters most. His street speeches as well as personal relationship with his
people of that time brought about public relation. However, over the years these have
changed in tactics along with technological development. The freedom of the press as well
as the introduction of TV and radio has changed the way political campaigns are run.

For example during the fifties the media form for political campaign was the radio and
newspapers. While today it is satellite TV and the Internet. These have evolved into more
dynamic mass media form but expensive one. In the olden days the cost of the campaign was
important because fewer would be willing to donate to something that did not concern them
except in changing their business forever. Hence, political campaigns were constraint by
budget and cost. Today the structure is totally different.

The campaigners have the freedom to choose whichever the media they want because they know
these very same media would effect the people who fund the campaign. Thus, in employing
mass media they are in effect employing the source of funding. The more successful they
are in creating content for media for presentation, the better their funding standing.
That is why the major focus of the election camping is not about what outcome the camping
will bring but how much money it would earn.

The impact it has on the overall camping is massive. First of all congressional election
is no longer a free form of campaigning for the elective bodies and forming new
legislative. In fact it has become one of the biggest race for funding rights and who
would secure more funding from venture capitalists. Secondly it has changed the form of
elective campaigns. The focus of the camping is no longer on wining and securing the seat
through strategy.

Hence, the direction of the camping has also changed as well. TV campaigns that were
supposed to be about information, today it is about feeding the information to the voters.
That is why one would see the evolution of TV talk shows like Jerry Springer and short
programs on the candidates that are meant to degrade the other opponents, bringing out the
bad secrets of their personal lives then about merits of the candidate and his integrity
in becoming a successful candidate. For example "It was in this 9-a.m.-to-10-a.m. slot
that Republican presidential candidate Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes Jr. chose to sprinkle
four of the new, positive advertising spots designed to rescue his sagging campaign in New
Hampshire. Juxtaposed between the hoots of the Springer audience, the tears of the girls'
mothers, and the embarrassed looks of their older lovers, viewers saw Forbes standing with
Ronald Reagan, helping crumble the Berlin wall, and designing New Jersey's popular tax
cut." [FITZGERALD, 1996, PP a14].

While in the latest political campaign it was about how Al Gore and Bush were campaigning
against each other. Al Gore was portrayed to be a hip person who cared for every other
person on the street, bringing to mind the boy next door that could do anything for the
voters. Bush on the other hand, was presented as a conservative who was serious about what
his ideology. Neither party wanted to lose face against the other hence they spent
billions of dollars into the camping and donation to the causes that their campaigners
believe. From the viewpoint of the financing party, the popularity of the candidates was
only a dilution that has "perpetrated by the popular media". For instance the TV,
Internet, press and periodicals all were transmitting the same message "vote for this
candidate".

Voters may not be convinced by being drilled the name of the candidate day in and day out
but they were bound to remember them perhaps out of irritation and think of choosing them
in the last moment. While on the other hand, from the politician's point of view, mass
media has given cause for progressing something that he would have had to do at his own
expense if he were back in time.

This is a way to expand his campaigning horizon. However, as one commentator says: "The
popular media offer a no-win situation for candidates. If a candidate escapes the media,
he becomes a nobody. If a candidate goes on television answering questions as a blameless,
non-Beltway innocent, he appears naive, fawning, and politically green. If a candidate
adopts a line to evade character probes, he seems shifty." [HANSON, 2000]. In the end the
party that has the money wins.


FUNDING AND AGENDA SETTING
Where funding is concerned, election campaigns are perhaps the most expensive in the
world. Wealthy candidates coupled with coalition of various industrial leaders work toward
one goal - to achieve publicity in the right direction. The inclusion of unions,
businesses and individuals in election campaign is common. Various supporters from key
funding sources pool in to finance the campaign. These are called soft money, which in
effect has no limitation because the contribution is generously donated with an ulterior
purpose - to spend and enhance the donator's position. The issue of mass media is related
to this kind of funding.

Campaigning of election takes a long time for agenda setting and utilizing of resources to
progress the candidate's viability as a congressional member. This entails extensive
further funding and donation to the various organizations that would demonstrate the
candidate cares about his people. For example during the 1996 election, the amount
collected was about $1.6 billion in funding. However, the candidates utilized most of it
on issues like education, welfare reform, paying off the national debt, social security,
and medical research etc. At the end of the election cycle, it was seen that $3 billion
was spent on advertising (Masterson 1). This indeed is a large amount for ads campaigns
alone.


EFFECTS ON AGENDA
According to one commentator [Kindl, 2000] "media does not have the same effect on all
members of society for a variety of reasons. Their research indicates that media
significantly impacts those who have a high need for orientation. There are two factors
that influence a persons need for orientation - relevance and uncertainty. Basically, a
person will be influenced by the media if the issue being discussed is relevant to their
life (affects them in some way), and they are unsure about their position on the issue
(uncertainty)." What then motivates political leaders to spend almost one fourth of their
funds on advertising and mass media?

One of the reason is that people are influenced by media in varying degrees but
nevertheless affected. The contingency of this scale is the wideness of the degree to the
lowest degree and the purpose is to engage in a media that would cover them all. Media
affect people because it addresses issues but political campaigners view this as a means
to channel, their messages laced within the issues. Research show that at specific
instances the category of the issue in accordance with the time and place has more effects
on the viewer then it does in other time.

For example in an election campaign people are more curious to know who would provide them
with the best educational benefit. Media tend to direct their attention in this area to
provide information that the viewer wants to watch. If the same thing were to be announced
in some other time of the year, like ABC politician had donated funds into the school
would not make an impact.

In this regard, agenda setting is imperative. For the political campaigners, agenda is set
with the view that it would catch the voters in a vulnerable time. In doing so they could
psychologically change the attitudes and decision of the voters for them. For example
framing of questions in TV programs that would lead the viewer to believe that the
candidate was "volunteering" information that were private and secret that he had always
Continues for 9 more pages >>




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