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Media communication technologies control and shape society. Most voters gain their political knowledge via the media which can influence their behaviors and beliefs. Notoriety and a positive image means everything to politicians. During an election various sources of mass media and social media are sought by politicians because it has the potential to reach a wide audience and impact society with a strong and influential message. Television, radio, print media, computers, internet, and cell phones are all a normal part of societies daily schedules. Mass media and social media are campaign tools used to gain support, educate citizens, provide full coverage of debates, and provide expert analysis. Media communication technologies can have different effects on individuals and impact the result on political battles. With the evolution of technology, social media has changed the tone and content of political speech and the way that politicians and their advertisements communicate with the public. New mediums transform elections by providing access to new demographics, tailoring advertisements to particular audiences, and providing direct communication with supporters. As technology advancements continue to occur, is social media changing how people experience political campaigns? This report will explore this question.
Defining Mass Media
Dr. Jack Lule (2013) is an Iacocca Professor and Chair of Journalism and Communication. He describes mass media as the various means or systems used to communicate a message to a group of people. Mass media consists of newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio broadcasting, television broadcasts, movies, advertisements, internet, mobile telephones, and social media posts. All of these forms of communication or mass media still exist today and are used to promote a mood, attitude, and a message. People all around the world obtain their information about local, national, and world events from the mass media. Mass media is the voice of individuals and organizations and produces content based on what the majority want to see and hear. Mass media, an effective tool for politicians, is utilized by the government to inform, gain support, investigate corruption, and explain government policies, goals, programs, and political positions. Mass media is also used for making a profit, educating, entertaining, and socializing.
Defining Social Media
Dr. Anthony Curtis (2013a), who is from the Department of Mass Communications from University of North Carolina at Pembroke, explains social media is the way people communicate or interact with each other via web-based communication tools. It both provides a person with information and allows a person to give their feedback on the information (Curtis, 2013a). As technology continues to improve more people are using mobile devices to read their news and are joining social media networks to interact with other people. There are different forms of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Wikipedia, Reddit, and Pinterest (Curtis, 2013a). Mary Bellis (2017a) explains that Facebook is a social networking site that was launched February 4, 2004 as TheFacebook by Mark Zuckerberg and was later changed to Facebook in 2005. Founded in 2003, LinkedIn is an employment and business social networking system (Curtis, 2013a). YouTube, a video-sharing site that allows people to upload, view, and share videos worldwide, was invented by Steven Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim in 2005 (Curtis, 2013a). Social media allows people to communicate, interact and collaborate on a massive scale. Candidates create simple posts on social media that can be easily retweeted and shared during political campaigns. Social media is fast, easy, and an effective tool for a politician to use to spread their message, gain support, and obtain contributions.
How Mass Media Differs from Social Media
Popularity is important in politics. Both mass media and social media help create an impression about candidates and allows voters to learn about their campaign goals. Dr. Jack Lule (2013 explains how mass media differs from social media. While advertising on mass media is designed for mass consumption, social media is designed for one-on-one marketing and interactions. Mass media allows a message to be presented which is a one-way conversation. Social media allows a two-way conversation by providing a person with information and allowing a person to give their feedback on the information. Dr. Jack Lule (2013) also explains that a passive consumer is somebody who only absorbs information. They will watch a show on television or read an article in the newspaper or magazine but not share it with others. Any form of media where the consumer can’t physically do anything with it, except for consume it, is a passive media. Politicians pay to broadcast their political advertisements on television but recognize the power of sharing their accomplishments, goals, and ideas through social media which is a free platform and reaches the masses of active consumers during a campaign. Social media adds a human touch to campaigns and allows direct and instant interaction and conversation with voters through online comments, blogs, and articles on websites. After watching a podcast, an active consumer will share the link with a friend. Close friends are found to be much more influential than messages from strangers on television. Not all politicians understand the value of social media for their political campaign but as Communication patterns change, they are learning how easy it is to create a Twitter or Facebook page for discussions.
Mass Media Milestones In History Since 1960
Mass media is a form of communication which involves print, broadcast, and social media. The print media uses pamphlets, brochures, poster, newspapers, and magazines. The broadcast media uses radio and television. In the past, most people got their news from newspapers and magazines. In the present, television and internet journalism has become dominant. Advances in technology with the internet is allowing the information from these sources to be available online. Even with new mediums emerging, old mediums and new mediums seem to find ways to amicably coexist. The below charts provide various mass media history and development milestones since 1960.
NEWSPAPERS: Newspapers, a reliable source, allow people the flexibility of when and what is read but generally are only kept for a few days.
|1967||Digital production started and computers are used for operations (Bellis, 2017b).|
|1971||The use of offset presses also known as offset lithography becomes common
|6/13/1971||Daniel Ellsberg a political activist, leaked hidden government documents to The New York Times who publishes the “Pentagon Papers” relating to classified government documents on the Vietnam War (Whittaker, 2018).|
|6/30/1971||The United States Supreme Court declares the injunction secured by President Richard Nixon to have The New York Times cease the production of the “Pentagon Papers” was unconstitutional because it violated free speech protection (Whittaker, 2018).|
|1973||Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Washington Post investigate Watergate and expose political corruption (Whittaker, 2018).|
|11/2/1989||The Herald Examiner, the nation’s largest afternoon daily ceased Publication
|2007||There are 1,456 daily newspapers in the United States alone, selling 55 million
copies a day (Bellis, 2017b).
|3/18/2009||The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a 146-year-old major US newspaper, leaves print format and becomes a web-only publication (Palmer, 2009).|
|2009||Newspapers begin moving into online versions (Palmer, 2009).|
|2010||Digital printing becomes common technology. Commercial printing and publishing starts to fade due to technology (Bellis, 2017b).|
MOVIES: Movies are more than just entertainment. They can expose corruption, address social issues, educate society, and change the course of history.
|4/9/1976||All the President’s Men is filmed to share the story of the Watergate story
exposed by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Ranker, n.d.).
|2009||The Most Dangerous Man In America is a documentary about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (Ehrlich, Goldsmith, Ellsberg, Ellsberg, Falk, Schelling & Halperin, 2009).|
|2012||Game Change about 2008 John McCain presidential election with running mate Sarah Palin (Ranker, n.d.).|
|2000||DVD movies (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|2006||Blue-ray DVD’s are released (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|2010||3D movies and 3D blue-ray players are created (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
magazines: Magazines are usually kept for weeks or months and frequently reread and shared.
|9/25/1964||“Daisy Girl: appears on cover of Time (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|1967||Digitized production started (Bellis, 2017b).|
other print Pamphlets, brochures, and posters are other print used to disseminate MEDIA: political messages.
|1972||The George McGovern presidential campaign was the first to raise large
amounts of money from direct mail (Cornish, 2012).
BILLBOARDS: Billboards can generate attention which often results in free press for politicians.
|1990||Hand-painted Illustrations and graphics used on billboards are replaced with digital technology (A Brief History of Outdoor Advertising, 2014).|
|2005||Billboards go digital (A Brief History of Outdoor Advertising, 2014).|
|2012||Mitt Romney’s campaign used digital billboards in states to coincide with Obama campaign rallies (Nyczepir, 2012).|
TELEVISION: Television supplies a representation of people and events, reaches mass audiences, provides sight, and provides sound.
|9/26/1960||First televised general election presidential debate between John F. Kennedy
and Richard Nixon (Lull, 2013).
|7/10/1962||Communications satellite Telstar I allowed news reports from around the
world to be transmitted in real-time (Curtis, 2013b).
|9/7/1964||“Daisy Girl”, one of the first negative political advertisements, was released by Lyndon Johnson’s campaign (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|1965||NBC Network led the way to “The Full Color Network” (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|1969||The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting System was formed and provided alternatives to network broadcasting (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|1980||Ted Turner founded Cable News Network which is around-the-clock cable news channels (Lule, 2013).|
|1992 & 1996||William J. Clinton used talk shows to grab the attention of the younger voters (Media Alliance Group, 2017).|
|1996||Digital satellite dishes were introduced to the consumer market (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|2005||Flat screen and high definition televisions became popular (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|2007||Organic LCD TV’s are introduced to the market (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|2009||Hi-definition TV and monitors are being released by manufacturers and connected to HDMI. (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
|2010||3D television is created (High-Tech Productions, 2013).|
RADIO: This tool helps focus people on the words spoken and requires politicians to speak clearly and sensibly with warm compassion.
|1960s||FM stations were added to AM radio stations (Lule, 2013).|
|1970||National Public Radio is founded (Lule, 2013).|
|1980s||Talk radio grows in popularity for politicians (Lule, 2013).|
|1987||The repeal of the Fairness Doctrine increased the popularity of AM talk radio (Lule, 2013).|
|1994||Radio stations begin broadcasting signals over the internet (Lule, 2013).|
|1998||The FCC awarded Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Radio to use digital audio radio service to create satellite radio which was created in 2008 when these two companies merged to create Sirius XM (Lule, 2013).|
|2001||HD radio is created (Lule, 2013).|
SOCIAL MEDIA: The internet provides users with control of which messages they wish to access. Personal computers, the internet, and smart phones connect millions of people around the world to each other.
|1969||CompuServe, using dial-up, was the first commercial internet service provider
in the United States (Curtis, 2013a).
|1971||The first email is sent (Tiedje, 2011).|
|1991||Tim Berners-Lee introduced the World Wide Web which allowed anybody on
the internet to retrieve information (Tiedje, 2011).
|1998||Google, an internet search engine, is founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin
|2001||The iPod, a portable media player and multi-purpose pocket computer was
invented by Apple (Curtis, 2013a).
|2003||Myspace, a social networking website, was launched in California (Curtis, 2013a).|
|2003||LinkedIn, an employment and business social networking system, was launched
|2/4/2004||TheFacebook, a social networking website, is launched my Mark Zuckerberg
which is later changed to Facebook in 2005 (Bellis, 2017a).
|2004||Podcasting, a video or audio file that is available in digital format for download
over the internet, was created (Curtis, 2013a).
|2005||Steven Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim invent YouTube which is used
by people to upload, view, and share videos worldwide (Curtis, 2013a).
|2006||Twitter, an online news and social networking site, allows members to interact with messages (Curtis, 2013a).|
|2007||Apple releases iPhone and internet smartphone (Curtis, 2013a).|
Comparison and Contraction of the Use of Mass and Social Media Between Nixon/Kennedy and Obama/Romney Campaigns
Media communication technologies control and shape society and can have different effects on campaigns. In the 1960s both UHF-band and VHF broadcast television was dominantly being used and consisted of three major networks and a few independent stations (Lule, 2013). By 1969 the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting System was formed and provided alternatives to network broadcasting (High-tech Productions, 2013). Evening news broadcasts lasted half an hour. Television was positioned as a new medium for political coverage and quickly surpassed newspapers and radio to become a major source of political information. The first televised general election presidential debate occurred September 26, 1960 between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon (Lull, 2013). More than 70 million people were watching this debate on television (Lull, 2013). Jack Lull (2013) describes the 1960 debate and campaign between Kennedy and Nixon. Prior to the debate a Gallup poll showed Nixon led by six percentage points. Undecided voters often cast their vote based on perception and likability of the candidate. Recognizing a positive image was more important than the news coverage itself and that television could reach and gain more voters than going in person to every state, Kennedy utilized the media to spread his campaign messages. Appearance, presentation, tone, and connecting with an audience mattered. His body language and appearance were warm, friendly, and confident. When answering questions, Kennedy looked directly at the camera and used casual language in his speech. Nixon’s approach was the opposite. His responses were directed to the journalist. His body language was harsh and uncomfortable. Due to an injured knee Nixon leaned on the podium. He used strong complex words that attacked Kennedy. Refusing to wear makeup he appeared sickly and his gray suit blended into the background. Their campaign advertisement styles complimented the debate. Kennedy used a catchy tune that was lively with a repetitive message, while Nixon’s advertisement was complex and filled with too much information. It is rumored but not backed with official data from an official rating source that those who listened to the debate on the radio predicted Richard Nixon the winner. Those who watched the debate announced John Kennedy the winner. Kennedy appeared as personable, youthful, sincere, charismatic and approachable. He presented himself as a competent leader and reassured skeptical voters of his ability to be President. Even though Nixon had more experience and was favored to win the election, Kennedy won the election by a narrow margin due to his style, image, presentation, and use of television. While television is still an important part of the electoral process, politicians are now also utilizing the internet and social media to share their messages with broader audiences.
Because television is a popular medium, candidates still invest in television advertisements. Both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney spent a lot of money on television for their 2012 campaign. Billboards are another tool used in campaigns to expose people to the name, party, and tagline of a candidate (Duncan, n.d.). In 1990 hand-painted illustrations and graphics on billboards were replaced with digital technology and by 2005 billboards were digital (A Brief History of Outdoor Advertising, 2014). In 2012, Romney’s campaign used digital billboards in states to coincide with Obama campaign rallies to generate attention and free press (Nyczepir, 2012). Romney did interviews on conservative talk radio and news stations. Between July 2012 and September 2012 Obama spoke to both national and local press outlets. He did twenty-six interviews with non-traditional outlets in media, urban, entertainment, sports radio, Spanish language, and students on both radio and television. Putting more effort into social media that do not require media filter, Obama used Facebook, Myspace, YouTube, Twitter, podcasting, and Reddit and changed the way politicians utilize social media (Curtis, 2013a). Facebook, an influential social media tool for politicians, encourages users to share, comment, and use the content being disseminated on the site. Myspace is a social networking website that was launched in California in 2003 (Curtis, 2013a). Twitter, an online news and social networking site created in 2006, allows members to interact with messages (Curtis, 2013a). Obama’s Ask Me Anything campaign on Reddit, a popular networking site, became one of the most popular threads of all time. Every retweet, liking, commenting, and click made on social media helped spread Obama’s political news and opinions amongst the public. Each opponent approached online campaigning with different tactics. Obama communicated with words while Romney tended to use pictures. Obama’s campaign posted messages faster, used more direct digital messaging, and targeted different voter groups. Romney’s campaign focused on securing registered but undecided voters. The social media strategy that won Obama the 2012 election was the use of an extremely sophisticated Get Out The Vote (GOTV) tool among traditionally low unregistered turnout groups, specifically the younger population, minorities, and single women who are often thought of as passive in political matters. His tools were better and worked. People voted for somebody they felt cared about them. Like Kennedy, Obama knew how to utilize new media technology to his advantage. Today political campaigns rely on old and new media to create and send messages to the public.
An effective campaign focuses on social behaviors while using current technology. A successful politician embraces change and strives to understand and use evolving communications. Both the 1960 and 2012 presidential elections had democratic representatives who knew how to present a positive image. The main media each used was different but new for its time. Kennedy used the television and Obama used social media. Barack Obama was the first president to use YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to inform, contact, and mobilize young voters. Both Kennedy and Obama treated people with respect and embodied change and hope. They were young, handsome, charismatic, and motivators. John F. Kennedy was a man who knew how to create and maintain his image with the press. They both managed to motivate and give people faith in the government. Obama’s campaign used social media to tap into the sense of political empowerment, generate support in spreading the word, encourage other voters, and raise funds. Social media allows people to connect with social networks, such as family, friends, colleagues and shared-interest group members which creates a new political dialogue by taking the power of political messaging away from the mass media and placing it into the hands of the candidate and the public. The most powerful form of persuasion comes from someone you trust. Social media creates multiple levels of trust based on relationships and demonstrates the power individuals have to make a difference. It also allows information and opinions to travel across networks to create opportunities for individual involvement and encourage people to be participants instead of passive consumers. In the 2012 election many online users were urged to vote via social media by family, friends or other social network connections. Today candidates are naturally incorporating social media into their campaigns to stand out to the newer generations who use smartphones, iPhones, ipods, tablets, internet and social media to follow the presidential election.
How Changes in the Media Have Impacted the Way People Experience Political Campaigns
Throughout history new mediums have transformed elections and the publics political campaign experience. The media shapes government politics by influencing political opinion and can sway uncommitted voters who may be the deciding vote. The media teaches values and life-styles and has the power to inform, educate, persuade, and change behaviors. More elections are being decided by a small percentage of the population consisting of undecided voters. The type of medium used, presentation, and the flow of the message are factors that can impact voters. In the past the media audience read, listened, or viewed political information supplied by politicians via newspapers, radio, television, billboards, and brochures. It was a one-way passive communication (Lull, 2013). In 2007 there were 1,456 daily newspapers in the United States selling 55 million copies a day but as the internet expanded its technology some newspapers began to cease or turn to web publication (Bellis, 2017b). The Herald Examiner, the nation’s largest afternoon daily ceased publication November 2, 1989 (Whittaker, 2018). By 2009 newspapers had begun to move into online versions like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a 146-year-old major US newspaper who left print format and became a web-only publication on March 18, 2009 (Palmer, 2009). By 2010 digital printing became a common technology as commercial printing and publishing started to fade due to technology (Bellis, 2017b). Today the public is more engaged in two-way conversations and uses social media to validate and evaluate the quality of information being provided. Mass media started with the printing press and has grown into the internet and social media.
Printed materials like newspapers, magazines, and brochures inform the public of important events occurring around the world. They have been a part of society and political campaigns for several centuries and have undergone dramatic changes over the course of history. Pamphlets, brochures, and posters are used to disseminate political messages. A campaign flyer or direct mail letter communicates a campaign message in text and includes a few photos or graphics designs to make it memorable. These forms of communication are still used in the hopes of reaching the older generations who still prefer the familiarity of the U.S. Mail instead of the new media. In 1972 George McGovern led the first presidential campaign to raise large amounts of money from direct mail (Cornish, 2012). Today presidential fund raising primarily occurs on the internet. Newspapers and magazines started with the printing press. Not yet popular, newspapers and magazines started to use computers for operations in 1967 for digital production (Bellis, 2017b). By 1971 they were still being printed and distributed but were commonly using offset printing, also known as offset lithography, because of its high and consistent image quality (Bellis, 2017b). While newspapers and magazines are easy to use and portable, today it is out of date by the time it is printed and purchased by a potential voter. A new personalized publication was created through on-demand printing technologies or with online news aggregator websites like Google news. Customized newspapers allow readers to create an individualized newspaper or magazine through the selection of pages from multiple publications. With these online sources, the reader has control to select what they want to view.
Movies provide entertainment, expose corruption, address social issues, educate society, and change the course of history. Through newspapers and movies, the media assists in exposing political corruption and holding politicians accountable. The value of this type of journalism is best demonstrated by the exposed military abuse during the Vietnam War and a corrupt presidential administration involving the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. Daniel Ellsberg, a political activist, leaked hidden government documents that exposed the United States political-military involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times who published the Pentagon Papers on June 13, 1971 (Whittaker, 2018). Nixon obtained a federal court injunction to cease The New York Times from publishing any additional Pentagon Papers. Once this was done, Washington Post started posting their own series of the Pentagon Papers (Whittaker, 2018). The Washington Post was also directed to cease publishing (Whittaker, 2018). On June 30, 1971 the United States Supreme Court declared the injunctions secured by President Richard Nixon were unconstitutional because it violated free speech protection (Whittaker, 2018). A secret security team called the “Plumbers” was formed by Nixon to obtain evidence to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg by burglarizing his psychiatrist’s office. This same team also bugged the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate office building. The Watergate scandal was uncovered by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of Washington Post in 1973 who did a series of investigative articles about corruption in the Nixon White House (Whittaker, 2018). Their stories, along with ones done by other publications, led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974 (Whittaker, 2018). Three well known movies were created to record political history. Released April 9, 1976 All the President’s Men was filmed to share the Watergate story exposed by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Ranker, n.d.). After viewing this movie Republicans felt there should be laws that control some of the things that reporters write and talk about. The Most Dangerous Man In America was released in 2009 and is a documentary about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (Ehrlich, Goldsmith, Ellsberg, Ellsberg, Falk, Schelling & Halperin, 2009). Game Change was released in 2012 about the 2008 John McCain presidential election with running mate Sarah Palin (Ranker, n.d.). Movies are still viewed in cinemas but with new inventions like DVD movies in 2000, blue-ray DVD’s in 2006, 3D movies and 3D blue-ray players in 2010, digital satellite dishes in 1996, and free movies that can be played on computers more people are watching movies at home (High-Tech Productions, 2013).
The first amendment in the Constitution guarantees free press. Televised debates enable voters to compare knowledge, personalities, ideologies, and the speaking skills of candidates. Free guest spots on television and radio news and talk shows are also used to reach the public. William J. Clinton like Kennedy had perfected the form of speech and presentation. Clinton was the first presidential candidate to effectively spread his political messages and image by appearing on daytime TV talk shows and found his way onto channels like MTV which allowed him to obtain the attention of the young voters who won him the 1992 election and 1996 reelection (Media Alliance Group, 2017).The right to equal time states that basic cable and basic radio stations must provide equal time to all candidates pursuing office. However, private media does not have to follow these same guidelines and can broadcast or publish whatever they prefer. This includes advertising. Newspapers, magazines, radio and television endorse particular candidates, and their reporting often favors those candidates to a degree. What the public knows about a candidate is what they hear, see and read in the media. The media determines what is newsworthy and will appeal to the audience and therefore has the ability to control a message. The pictures used, the questions asked and the stories chosen for reporting all play a role in affecting the way a candidate appears to the public. Stories with conflict and emotion tend to get more news coverage. The media can have a strong influence on how messages are received and interpreted by people and can change the outcome of a discussion and the conclusions people form by the way information is selected, processed, and presented. Since the media has a broad reach and influence over the general population, candidates attempt to stay on good terms with them. However, successful politicians of American history knew how to manipulate the dominant news forum of their time. Voters choice can be grounded on image. The Reagan administration knew how to manipulate or arrange the look and feel of campaign events in the age of satellites to place focus on images rather than the news story to advance Ronald Reagan’s political career.
Both the radio and television have been through multiple technology changes. Ever since the general election presidential debate in 1960, television has become an important aspect of presidential elections. Telstar I, a communication satellite, allowed news reports from around the world to be transmitted in real-time July 10, 1962 (Curtis, 2013b). By 1980 Ted Turner founded Cable News Network which is around-the-clock cable news channels (Lule, 2013). In order to view the new technology, the television evolved. In 2005 flat screen and high definition televisions became popular, organic LCD TV’s were introduced to the market in 2007, in 2009 hi-definition TV and monitors were released by manufacturers and able be connected to the internet via HDMI, and in 2010 3D televisions were created (High-Tech Productions, 2013). In the 1960’s FM stations were added to AM radio stations, in 1970 National Public Radio was founded, by the 1980’s talk radio grew in popularity by politicians, and in 1987 the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine increased the popularity of AM talk radio (Lule, 2013). Radio requires a strong voice and an easily understood message. Radio stations began broadcasting signals over the internet in 1994 and in 1998 the FCC awarded Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Radio the right to use digital audio radio service to create satellite radio which was created in 2008 when these two companies merged and created Sirius XM (Lule, 2013). In 2001 HD radio was created (Lule, 2013). Both radio and television allow live transmission of a political message or political event but in the past both of these technologies depended on the audience being present to receive this message. Today an event streamed via the internet is just as live as the radio or television broadcast that accompanies it. It is also easily accessed immediately or following the event via free video streaming services. Today candidates post advertisements on their websites and YouTube, as well as purchase and run advertisements on cable, broadcast television, and radio stations.
Campaign commercials reach voters with visuals, sounds, and text. Their advertisements use emotion along with sounds and images to communicate information within 30 seconds. Negative impressions associated with a candidate can be more powerful in persuading voters then positive impressions. High-Tech Productions (2013) explains “Daisy Girl”, the first most powerful negative political advertisement, was released September 7, 1964 by Democratic Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign during the 1964 election against Republican Gary Goldwater. Although it only aired once by Johnson’s campaign, controversy led to it appearing on network news, commentary programs, and the cover of Time September 25, 1964 (High-Tech Productions, 2013). A young girl is shown picking petals off a daisy, while countdown to a nuclear explosion is heard. The advertisement ends with the tagline “because the stakes are too high for you to stay home.” (High-Tech Productions, 2013). Goldwater had listed the use of small nuclear weapons as a way to de-escalate the Vietnam War. The advertisement exploited the established public fear that Goldwater would start a nuclear war if elected president. Negative campaigning, the reach of television, and the emotional message helped Johnson win the electoral votes of 44 states. Another controversial ad called “Convention” took place during the Vietnam War and was played by Nixon’s campaign 8 days before the 1968 Presidential Election between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey on NBC. It appeared in color as NBC led the way to a full color network in 1965 (High-Tech Productions, 2013). Discussions developed on the meaning of the clip (CBS News, 2010). It contained images of Vietnam, race riots, poverty, Humphrey smiling at the Democratic convention, and bursts of machine-gun fire (CBS News, 2010). The ad was discussed frequently in the 8 days before the election which some people feel contributed to Nixon gaining popularity and votes to win the election. George Bush used this same tactic against Michael Dukakis in 1988. He used brutal television advertising to portray Dukakis as an ineffective liberal who would endanger the country’s defense system and let convicted murderers out of prison. Bush also produced a series of strong positive ads about himself, such as “The Future” which sought to establish an identity for the two-term president. He was shown in excerpts from his speech accepting the nomination or in family scenes that presented him as an all-American father figure. He skillfully supplemented commercials with free publicity in the form of staged photo opportunities for the news. Television campaign commercials are being replaced with less expensive online advertisement that can be made quickly and posted to websites or YouTube for free. This advertisement process has the ability to reach thousands of voters in half the time as the newspaper, radio or television.
Social media and the internet are key components of modern political campaigns and benefits both the politician and the voter. It allows people to access and research candidates and political news on their own time. Dr. Anthony Curtis (2013a) shares that in 1969 CompuServe, using dial-up, was the first commercial internet service provider in the United States and in 2004 podcasting, a video or audio file that is available in digital format for downloads on the internet, was created. In 1971 the first email was sent (Tiedje, 2011). Emails, websites, and podcasts enable faster communications and deliver a message to a larger audience. The technological advances of personal devices such as the internet, iPhones, and tablets created new avenues for the politicians to spread their message without media filter. On the internet an individual can hear a comment, record it, upload, and tweet it to thousands of people within seconds of it occurring. Online systems allow candidates to gather information about web browser habits to cater a message to the users interests and beliefs. Social media creates communication amongst friends and family. Voters are playing an increasingly large role in helping to communicate campaign messages, while the role of the traditional news media as an authority or validator has lessened. The iPod, a portable media player and multi-purpose pocket computer, was invented by Apple in 2001 and in 2007 Apple released iPhones and internet smartphones (Curtis, 2013a). The internet is a technology that is incredibly mobile and follows the user. A smartphone is internet enabled, making information easily accessible, and can be carried in a pocket. In 1991 Tim Berners-Lee introduced the world wide web which allowed anybody on the internet to retrieve information (Tiedje, 2011). Google, an internet search engine, was created by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998 (Curtis, 2013a).
From social validation to familiarity that turns into acceptance, social networks and the ability to link peer to peer, influence voters by exposing a candidate’s political viewpoints and issues to the public to be discussed. Social media has revolutionized how people form political opinions and make election decisions. Social platforms like Twitter are used by candidates to broadcast messages, build excitement for the candidate, inform voters about policy, and identify voters interest to properly target audiences for both voting and donating. Social media is an important tool in promoting political change and allows access to and conversation about political debates. With more Americans using computers, smartphones, and the internet politicians are turning to social media to reach voters. The Internet is a real-time interactive medium that allows people to send and receive information. Most of what people know about politics and politicians comes from the media. Technology such as the internet has transformed campaigning by closing the gap between the candidates and the public. People use social media to voice opinions with each other and be involved in politics. Obtaining different viewpoints about a politician can change a person’s opinion. The older communication technologies have not vanished; they are just evolving. Today there are more people involved and engaged in politics because of the internet and social media. Successful candidates adapt to change and understand changing communications. Franklin D. Roosevelt projected self-assurance with his tone and demeanor using the radio. John F. Kennedy embraced television to present his image and voice to the world. In 2008 and 2012 Barack Obama relied on social media and new media channels to reach minority groups and young voters, engage voters, recruit campaign volunteers, and raise campaign funds. Digital technology allows leaders to engage in a new level of dialogue with voters.
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