Digital Electioneering: Transition From Print Culture


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Digital Electioneering: Transition From Print Culture

  1. 1. Digital Electioneering: Transition From Print Culture 18 October 2010 Kathy E. Gill
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Milestones, Criticisms: Radio </li></ul><ul><li>Milestones, Criticisms: Film </li></ul><ul><li>Milestones, Criticisms: TV </li></ul><ul><li>TV Viewership </li></ul><ul><li>So Where’s The Deliberation? </li></ul>
  3. 4. US Households With Radio By Region (1930-1950) (* Cost in 2004 dollars) Source: Year US Urban Rural Receiver $ 1930 40.3 50.0 26.9 $78 ($845*) 1940 82.8 91.7 69.6 $38 ($506*) 1950 95.7 97.2 92.7 $26 ($205*)
  4. 5. Post-Electricity Milestones: Radio <ul><li>1933: FDR inauguration broadcast (radio) worldwide. “The sound of sleet striking the microphone could be heard as he proclaimed, ‘Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’” </li></ul><ul><li>1933: FDR launches the first of 30 “ fireside chats ” </li></ul><ul><li>1935: NBC America’s Town Meeting of the Air (5M) </li></ul><ul><li>1936: Radio advertising used extensively by Republicans in presidential campaign </li></ul><ul><li>1938: 35% rural and 72% urban owned radios (about 40% of population was rural, only 40% of rural population had electricity) </li></ul><ul><li>1948: first nationally broadcast debate, Stassen-Dewey (sponsor, Portland OR radio station) </li></ul>
  5. 6. Radio Critics, Supporters <ul><li>Cost “made it impossible for the minor parties to compete with the two major parties” (p167) </li></ul><ul><li>Candidates can no longer “protest that they had been misquoted” (p168) </li></ul><ul><li>1928: “The radio, properly used, will do more for popular government than have most of the wars for freedom and self government.” Collier Magazine (p169) </li></ul><ul><li>1936: The NYT declares the impact of radio on politics as “uncertain” (p179) </li></ul><ul><li>From Fireside Politics by Douglas B. Craig </li></ul>
  6. 7. Radio, Impact on Campaign Cost <ul><li>1860 – Presidential race, $150,000 </li></ul><ul><li>1920 – last “pre-radio age” presidential and congressional campaign, $10M (4-1, GOP, $108M in 2008 dollars) </li></ul><ul><li>1928 - $17M ($214M in 2008 dollars) </li></ul>
  7. 9. Film During Depression <ul><li>Great Depression: 1929 – late 1930s/early 1940s </li></ul><ul><li>1930 – Sound still a novelty </li></ul><ul><li>Early 30s - 60 to 75 million people continued to attend theaters each week </li></ul>
  8. 10. Post-Electricity Milestones: Film <ul><li>1934: California Gubernatorial Race </li></ul><ul><li>Hollywood response to Upton Sinclair Democratic nomination (“socialist”): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creation of the first &quot;attack ads&quot; for the screen: three fake “newsreels” shown prior to movie (sparked riots) – YouTube </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hollywood “moguls” threatened to move industry to Florida </li></ul></ul><ul><li>HuffPo running daily dispatches from 1934 </li></ul>
  9. 12. Post-Electricity Background: TV <ul><li>1936: The BBC began regularly scheduled black and white television broadcasts </li></ul><ul><li>1939: Broadcasts shut down due to WWI </li></ul><ul><li>1941: NTSC standard for U.S. TV broadcasts </li></ul>
  10. 13. TV Set Sales (estimated) Source: Year Total Cumulative 1939-1941 7,000 1950 6.1 million 9.7 million 1955 7.4 million 42.9 million 1959 5.8 million 67.1 million
  11. 14. Post-Electricity Milestones: TV <ul><li>1939: FDR the first president to appear on TV </li></ul><ul><li>1948: Truman holds the last “whistlestop” tour; first televised political convention </li></ul><ul><li>1950: Sen. Benton (CT) produces the first TV ads </li></ul><ul><li>1952: Candidates for nomination answer questions at the LoWV national convention </li></ul><ul><li>1953: Eisenhower inauguration the first to be televised </li></ul><ul><li>1956: Stevenson and Kefauver debate broadcast by ABC; more than half American HHs have a TV </li></ul><ul><li>1960: Kennedy-Nixon Debates </li></ul>
  12. 15. Kennedy-Nixon Debates <ul><li>26 Sept; 7 Oct 1960; 13 Oct; 21 Oct </li></ul><ul><li>Nixon had been in the hospital for two weeks, was 20 lbs underweight, pale </li></ul><ul><li>Kennedy had been campaigning in CA in a convertible </li></ul><ul><li>TV watchers thought Kennedy “won” </li></ul><ul><li>Radio listeners thought Nixon “won” </li></ul>
  13. 16. Controversy, Cost <ul><li>1959: Adlai Stevenson called for blocks of time for candidates, in part because of the “prohibitive costs” of TV </li></ul><ul><li>“ Property seizure” claimed the networks; “First Amendment” violation </li></ul><ul><li>Congress suspended the equal opportunities law only for 1960 and only for presidential candidates. No debates again until 1976. </li></ul>
  14. 17. Impact <ul><li>Nixon-Kennedy debate jumpstarted the televised political debate around the world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Soon in Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden </li></ul></ul><ul><li>And the race? Kennedy won the popular vote 49.7 percent to 49.5 percent, electoral vote 303 to 219 </li></ul>
  15. 18. But Even Then … The Slip <ul><li>“ A tired and irritated President Eisenhower was anxious to end a press conference. A reporter asked what major decisions the Vice-President had participated in making. Eisenhower responded, &quot;If you give me a week, I might think of one.&quot; The response was not meant as a slight to Nixon, but as an attempt to make light of his own mental fatigue. Never the less, the slip came to the delight of Democrats and stimulated JFK to face challenge Nixon's charges of inexperience.” </li></ul><ul><li>Source </li></ul>
  16. 19. TV + Cable + Web = Amplification <ul><li>The Dean Scream (2000) : broadcast and cable networks played the scream, out of context, 633 times in the four days after his speech </li></ul><ul><ul><li>YouTube Clips </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes, it went “ viral ” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Jay Rosen : “the built-in element of intellectual dishonesty” that is campaign reporting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More criticism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CBS Analysis “The Iowa speech has become a problem because Dean's aides either failed to recognize or failed to convince their candidate that when he speaks to a roomful of people, he is not speaking to a roomful of people: he is speaking to a television camera… He was lifting them up after a devastating and unexpected loss. This is not the campaign's spin – it is their flaw.” </li></ul></ul>
  17. 20. TV Costs, Access <ul><li>2000: “ Ad Wars ” Citizens for Better Medicare, which is a group organized by the pharmaceutical industry, aired ads costing about as much as spent by the Democratic National Committee. It raises the possibility that we have a third party, Republicans, Democrats and Citizens for Better Medicare. </li></ul><ul><li>2008: Obama shuns public financing; total campaign spending (official) will exceed $1B </li></ul>
  18. 21. TV Viewership - 1
  19. 22. TV Viewership - 2
  20. 23. Debate Viewership - 1
  21. 24. Debate Viewership - 2
  22. 25. So Where’s The Deliberation? <ul><li>Both radio and TV are “mass” media also known as “one to many” </li></ul><ul><li>Neither facilitates interaction </li></ul><ul><li>So can we really consider them part of the public sphere? </li></ul>
  23. 26. Public Sphere <ul><li>A place where political participation is practiced through “talk” about mutual interests and where common judgments may be formed (an ideal articulated first by Habermas) </li></ul><ul><li>Gerard Hauser: “rhetorical” public sphere is issue-based and grounded in discourse </li></ul>
  24. 27. The State of the Public Sphere <ul><li>77 percent of Americans avoid discussing politics </li></ul><ul><li>28 percent “feel they can control their own temper… [when the topic] becomes the least bit controversial” </li></ul><ul><li>10 percent report that they stay away from political banter at all cost </li></ul><ul><li>Source : Crucial Conversations, margin of error +/-3% </li></ul>
  25. 28. The Role of Technology <ul><li>TV Sound Bites – positive or negative? </li></ul><ul><li>Howard Rheingold argues (6.5 min) that new technologies may facilitate video interaction </li></ul>
  26. 29. Summary <ul><li>Evolutionary change </li></ul><ul><li>Increased speed, increased cost </li></ul><ul><li>But at what price deliberation and engagement? </li></ul>