In this chapter students learned about various political and economic institutions around the world and about political power in American society. Like all other democracies today, the United States emphasizes political power through voting. Most attitudes and beliefs that are expressed as political opinions are gained through a learning process called political socialization. The major agents of this include the family; the mass media; and a person's level of education, economic status and occupation, and age and gender. Television is the leading source of political and public affairs information for most people. In this activity students will take a closer look at the role of the television media in elections.
Students will visit the State Department's International Information Programs Web site about the role of the media in elections to learn more about the relationship between candidates, the public, and the mass media. After answering several questions about the role of the media, students will design a campaign strategy for themselves as a candidate for governor of their state.
- Students will be able to explain the reasons behind the popularity of television as a political tool.
- Students will be able to identify the various types of advertising used by political candidates.
- Students will be able to design an effective campaign strategy.
Student Web Activity Answers
- The large scale of these elections makes television essential—it is simply the most cost-effective way of communicating with the electorate.
- Most political advertising, even in presidential campaigns, is purchased from local television outlets, rather than the national networks, in order to reach voters in particular states. Candidates focus their advertising efforts on states where the voters split evenly between the parties and their advertising dollars can be most effective. In hotly contested states, voters typically see six presidential advertisements for every one ad that voters in other states see.
- Free media consists of newspaper and television coverage of a campaign. Candidates send results of their own opinion polls and copies of their advertisements to newspapers and television stations, hoping that these will be aired as part of the news. Some hire private investigators to check into their opponents' personal histories and leak any scandalous behavior to the press. Parties also now produce their national conventions as if they were television shows.
- The main concern is whether the views represented on the news and other programs reflect a broad range of society or just a limited set of viewpoints. With the beginning of deregulation in the 1980s, however, the telecommunications industry in the United States allowed the creation of an extensive cable network, which presents viewpoints of every imaginable aspect of American society.
- Students' campaign strategies will vary.
Go To Student Web Activity