5 Steps To Get You To The Polls!
Read More "Elections are overwhelming, but not as overwhelming as bad public officials!"
UNCW IMC Students writing about IMC and life at UNCW
There is no denying how impactful celebrity endorsements can be on the public, especially in today’s political landscape. As the 2018 midterm election approaches, more and more celebrities are attempting to mobilize people to get to the polls and vote! But are these endorsements actually affecting candidates’ numbers?
Many celebrities have been seen personally endorsing candidates from their home states. Recently, Taylor Swift posted on Instagram that she will be voting for Tennessee candidates Jim Cooper and Phil Bredesen. Will Ferrell was spotted knocking on doors in Georgia endorsing Stacey Abrams for governor. Jack Black and Meryl Streep made large donations to Senator Claire McCaskill’s reelection fund. Even the Houston native, Travis Scott, voiced his support for Beto O’Rourke.
It is obvious celebrities have an effect on the way people think. People are more likely to use a product if they see a celebrity using that product or endorsing it. Also, the more credible celebrities have a much higher impact on people’s opinions and decisions. However, this does not seem to apply to the political scene.
According to Gallup, Pew, and CBS News, celebrity-endorsed campaigns do not matter to the overwhelming majority of voters. CBS News polls revealed that 78% of people expected celebrity endorsements to have little to no effect on the election. Some experts say poll numbers may not accurately reflect the true impact that big-name celebrities have on campaigns.
So maybe, celebrities that endorse politicians aren’t doing the trick. One study found that an increase in young voter participation could be attributed to celebs that influence fans to “get out and vote”. Many celebrities are posting pictures of their “I Voted” stickers and tweeting to their fans the importance of having your voice heard by voting.
Overall, a voter who typically votes for one party is not going to turn around and become a supporter of another party because a celebrity told them to. But people who were undecided or weren’t planning on voting in the first place could be persuaded to get out to the polls. The link between celebrity power and politics has a long history and most studies claim it does not affect the way people vote. Perhaps the question we should ask is, “Do celebrity endorsements make you pay more attention?”
– Lizzy Regnery
Donald Trump as a citizen and as a presidential candidate was known to get himself into sticky situations on social media, more specifically Twitter.
@realDonaldTrump engaged heavily in Twitter communication during the course of the election cycle. His ‘twitter-happy’ personality often came across aggressive and disrespectful. However, this was the brand that Donald Trump created for himself, as he knew what I was getting himself into.
A little less than a month ago, on January 20th, Donald J. Trump was sworn into the Office. Also on that day, the now 45th President adopted the Twitter handle @POTUS. With this transition comes a bigger responsibility of how the President chooses to communicate using social media. President Trump must now reinvent his social media communication strategy, and re-brand himself as the President of the United States.
Former President Barack Obama was the first president to utilize Twitter to communicate with the nation; However, the 44th President was not nearly as dependent on this form of communication as is President Trump.
Ever since President Trump entered office, he has been utilizing Twitter and Facebook heavily. I have personally seen several events streaming live via Facebook. As many of us know, it can take up valuable time to generate a powerful message with only 140 characters. As students who are studying communication, we understand that a key skill to have in the process of “managing mutual responding” is to be able to generate effective and efficient messages to convey understanding to listening parties. It is not easy, especially with a limit of 140 characters. President Trump, however, seems to have no problems generating messages throughout the day among his Presidential duties. I can almost see the book on the shelf now…The Art of the Tweet by Donald Trump.
Regardless of anyone’s opinions of President Trump’s policies, decisions, and beliefs, he is still breaking through barriers by trying to cut out the middleman in bringing you important information. If he is able to maintain ‘presidential etiquette’, do you think it is appropriate for President Trump to continue his frequent tweeting? Can this help prevent news sources from misinterpreting his attitude towards something, or an event that occurred? Just a couple points to think about.
~ Ben Yerby
For the past few decades, the bulk of wealth in America floods to the top- 99% of the new income is going to the wealthiest 1%. Billionaires have the ability to agenda set and fund politicians for their own interests. The Koch brothers alone are projected to spend almost one billion dollars funding campaigns.
Elections, in turn, have become similar to television shows with aggressive personas rising to the top. Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Carly Fiorina- whose politics have been called “post-truth” are jockeying for the republication nomination. On the Democratic side, there’s Clinton whose views seem to change in accordance with her largest donors. And the weird things is, people don’t seem to care. But is it really their fault?
Politicians’ advertisements can be somewhat skewed to adhere to our wants and needs. We watch the political debates to see which candidate will resonate with our personal values, but all that is discussed are issues not solutions. The message the media projects about politics focuses on the conflict at hand. Is conflict ever resolved or is it just discussed? Politicians have the chance to engage with a wide audience, the debates streaming on TV and throughout social media. The engagement perspective of IMC says a message is intended to get a response from the audience. Will the audience reject or accept it? Will it change their behaviors once the message is received? The political debates allow candidates to persuade their audiences to think differently.
The media has an obligation, as a forum by which citizens receive their news, to provide viewers with relevant and truthful information. According to the agenda-setting theory, media influence affects the order of presentation in news reports about events and issues in the public mind. In the context of election time, news outlets control how the political candidates and issues are presented to their viewers.
If people get 90% of their information about politics from TV and the TV station’s parent company has an interest in the outcome an election, can the viewers be blamed for following along? How much responsibility should we place on journalists and media outlets? Has the concentration of wealth at the top of America’s population and the ability for wealthy individuals to shape our elections transformed our democracy?
-Jonathan Callahan, Erin Fouhy, Julia George, Joseph Hines, and Sarah Suggs
The race for our next presidential candidates has been nothing short of entertaining this year, to say the least. The Republican Party’s posterchild, Donald J. Trump, is currently the frontrunner in polls. When Trump announced his presidential campaign, our nation couldn’t help but look incredulously at the millionaire mogul who’s already built his successful brand through business, franchises and TV networks. Despite bluntness, controversial statements and even discrepancies in political speeches, Trump has garnered the support of thousands of Republicans and the praise of being one of the most candid, or “authentic” candidates—but how and why?
Perceptions of Authenticity
Can a political candidate, or anyone for the matter, be authentic? In short, no. Or at least this is what Andrew Potter argues, author of The Authenticity Hoax, a 2010 book that criticizes the modern individual’s search for an ultimately unattainable “authentic” self.
In his chapter titled “Vote for me, I’m Authentic” Potter delves into the issue of voter apathy in democratic societies and how political campaigning and the media affect this. Most of us are used to manufactured speeches and the all-talk-no-results perception of politicians—and there’s been a trend of voter apathy, or the choice to not vote, in developed countries.
Trumps political extremism manufactures a perception of authenticity which could motivate U.S. citizens to vote who may consider themselves apathetic. He delivers seemingly uncensored and extemporaneous speeches—however questionable they may be—that echo his results-oriented business background. Why does he have a larger following than, say, Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP and businesswoman alike?
The Media Controls It
Agenda-setting theory, anyone? This communication theory says that the media manipulates what the public thinks is important. Basically, whatever stories have the most coverage in the news become the “important” issues—the flavor of the week. Trump, for a variety of reasons, has been covered practically every day by some type of media outlet since he announced his participation in the race. You probably have read a story or two about Trump, even if you didn’t want to.
In a recent example of agenda setting not involving Trump—who won the first Democratic debate? Major media reports that Hillary Clinton was the clear winner when, according to online polls, Bernie Sanders was voted the winner by viewers. Is this a disparity of choice or opinion? Potter writes, “The media’s pundit class feeds this gladiatorial conception of political debates by treating them as a boxing match, with the post-debate analysis invariably focused on who scored what points, and whether any of the candidates was able to strike the mythical “knockout blow” (p. 172). While the media like to sensationalize, there are other factors involving what the media cover. In short, the media, across multiple outlets, can report that Hillary Clinton won when voters disagree. How do we evaluate the ways we receive our news?
Like all political candidates, Trump is a brand. Donald Trump is a symbol, a message and a vehicle for his message. Trump is a business icon and has built an empire over many years, but why is Trump running for president, too? Political IMC is integral to the success or failure of a candidate’s campaign—establishing ethos, effective marketing, political advertising, event planning and speech writing are just some components that go into the branding of a politician.
“‘’Some people think this will be good for my brand,’ Trump concluded, as deep as he probes. ‘I think it’s irrelevant for my brand.’” This blasé quote came from Trump himself in a feature written by Mark Leibovich in the New York Times Magazine.
I disagree with Mr. Trump. For public figures, every extension of oneself, every action, participation, speech, statement, declaration affects one’s brand. One’s brand is the essence and the story of who they are. While Trump will probably only gain revenue and face time with his campaign, to say that it doesn’t affect his brand is nonsense. Whether it’s good or bad is a value judgment, but it’s fair to say that is not now, Trump’s brand will see the effects of this year’s political campaign.
Well, it wasn’t ready. The Affordable Care Act website, that is. Commonly known as Obamacare by critics, the program officially launched October 1, 2013 and attempts to allow each American the opportunity to have affordable health care. The program was signed into law in 2010, but only just now became part of daily American life. The website experienced technical errors last week, and again this past Tuesday. However, this was unrelated to the government shutdown. Instead, the system experienced a major overload due to mass traffic to the site, claimed those who run it. An estimated 8 million visitors forced the site to send a response of “Please Wait and Be Patient,” CNBC reports. Run by the Department of Health and Human Services, the process to acquire a health care quote is actually quite simple. I myself did it and, just shy of giving my contact information, I was inches from an affordable quote in less than two minutes.
Fox News said that the 93 million dollar website was the victim of poor Java Script coding, to the point where, simply put, the site freezes up. It doesn’t know where to go or in which direction to proceed. Yet MSNBC follows the path of the HHS, saying it was simply a matter of visitor overload to the site. MSNBC did not report, as of posting, that there were Java Script coding issues.
So. Which to believe? It is common knowledge that news stations lean differently towards their side, whether it be right or left. Even CNN, a major world news outlet, leans toward one side. This post is neither liberal nor conservative, and it neither promotes nor discourages the Affordable Care Act. However, it does encourage that American citizens not rely solely on one news outlet for information. Rather, gather your news from a multitude of sources. Otherwise a viewer faces the possibility of being a victim of “Spiral of Silence.” The Spiral of Silence is an instance where an individual, with one opinion differing from that of the majority, is unable to voice said opinion for fear of judgment. For instance, if I believe Theory X, but my neighborhood only watches one news channel that reports solely on Theory Y, the neighborhood will only be educated on Theory Y. If the entirety of the neighborhood, apart from myself, believes in Theory Y, I would be uncomfortable in expressing my opinions and differences. I am lost in the Spiral of Silence. If you support a cause that one news station does not, you are only educated on their belief. In the land of the free, is our free speech being suppressed by the media?
The political landscape of today is a far cry from what it was just a few decades ago. Radio chats and newspaper headlines are obsolete in comparison to the speed and accessibility the Internet offers for political communication. This past week, headlines on every major network ringed “government shutdown”.
As usual, polarized politics have kept the Republicans and Democrats in gridlock as Congress disputes the budget and Obamacare. Inability to reach consensus has left millions of workers temporally furloughed, while others are unable to attend work at all. The turmoil of the national government continues as the shutdown advances into this week, which leaves us wondering, could the media be enjoying all this anxiety?
With the introduction of the 24/7 new cycle, cable networks are now in constant competition to fill news holes and beat competitors ratings. What is news, what is analysis, and what is entertainment are supposed to be notably different, yet the three are becoming harder for the public to differentiate between. Has the constant monitoring of the shutdown become the perfect manifestation for the media?
News networks’ websites are filled with headlines, sidebars, and blogs about the shutdown. Their social media sites are providing hourly updates of Congress, urging people to follow the bombardment of links going to their website articles. And their programming has become a mixture of analysis and entertainment as their “bipartisan” debate on the subject often features a right-wing versus left-wing commentator “discussing” (yelling) their opinions.
As outlets continue to label the shutdown as a “showdown”, it becomes evident horse race journalism is no longer only applicable during election coverage, but has transcended into the way politics are viewed and reported every day.
Matthew C. Nisbet describes the reporting style and its features. Horse race journalism focuses predominantly on which players are most adept at gaining power while undermining the chances of the opponents. Rather than foregrounding the context of political issues or policy proposals, journalists focus on: who’s ahead and who’s behind in the policy battle, the primary persons involved, and the shifting tactics that are employed.
Polling and public opinion surveys are central feature in horse race journalism. Claiming they supply “objective” data, reporters use the results to define who is winning while gaining additional news pegs for the reasons of such successes or failures.
Public opinion surveys act as a competitive advantage in the news marketplace, filling the demand for “anything new” in the 24 hour coverage cycle. “Polls say” and “Poll show” headers allow journalists to make their own independent attributions without relying on consensus of experts. As a result, a constant emphasis arises between sets of ideologies and/or sets of political actors.
Almost every major news network has been asking its viewers and readers to chime in on “Who’s to blame?”
Rather than explaining policy, media outlets have framed the shutdown into a simplistic game of winners v. losers, Democrats v. Republicans, Obama v. Congress. Outlets are then using their polling results to create further news articles that act as nothing more than a survey report.
Their strategy has not been in vain. During prime-time, Monday through Thursday of the past week, ratings for CNN were up 68%, MSNBC up 54%, and Fox up 49%. As viewers continue to tune in, we are left begging the questions: Is the press providing an informative medium for exercising the public’s right to know? Or has the shutdown turned into another political spectacle for media to cash in on?
– Savannah Valade