Television News and Presidential Campaigns: The Legitimization of Televised Political Advertising

Kaid, Lynda Lee; Gobetz, Robert H.; Garner, Jane; Leland, Chris M.; Scott, David K.
June 1993
Social Science Quarterly (University of Texas Press);Jun93, Vol. 74 Issue 2, p274
Academic Journal
Media professional Tony Schwartz declared that in the past "political parties were the means of communication from the candidate to public." For most candidates, the preferred message format for television communication is the political spot advertisement. However, while a candidate can control his/her television advertisements, he/she must also contend with television news anchorage upon which nearly two-thirds of the American public rely for information and over which his/her control is much less direct or certain. The fact is that television news and television advertising have grown more closely intertwined in recent campaigns, as television advertising has become the content of television news. The study reported in this article used content analysis to explore television news coverage of political advertising over the past five presidential campaigns. Presidential campaigns have been increasingly dependent on television advertising to reach the largest number of voters per dollar. It is less immediately apparent why television newscasts would give valuable air time to political advertisements. Television networks acknowledged the importance of televised political spot advertisements for the first time in 1984.


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