Network news coverage of campaign advertisements: media's ability to reinforce campaign messages
American Politics Research
Gwiasda, Gregory W.
Copyright (c) 2001 Thousand Oaks
Abstract: In this article, the author examines whether network news coverage of a campaign advertisementís issue can reinforce the adís basic message for the public and later individual candidate assessment. The author uses the 1988 Willie Horton ad to investigate this question, combining data from the 1988 American National Election Study with content analysis from the Vanderbilt Television News Archives. Results show that general campaign coverage of race and crime issues as well as coverage of Horton influenced individual ideological perceptions of Dukakis. In line with Zallerís theory of public opinion, this influence was limited to certain individuals within the population, namely, media coverage affects individuals with moderate levels of political awareness who have weaker initial predispositions. Combined, these results demonstrate that media can exert both significantly and substantively significant influence on the public. .