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Media and Society - Essay Example

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This chapter discussed the 1940 presidential election to study the formation of voting decisions over time and to analyze people's voting behavior (Lowery and DeFleur, 1983). A study was conducted during the timely election period where Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democrat) ran up against Wendell Willkie (Republican) on the presidential race…
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Download file to see previous pages The researchers used a survey sampling method and a panel design technique in which the same samples were observed at different points in time (Lowery and DeFleur, 1983) . Locational parameter was in Erie County in Ohio because it was culturally homogenous with a population of 43,000 being stable for 40 years. The people living in Erie County were all white and the farmers and the industrial labor force were evenly distributed. Thus, this would help in classifying the respondents. It was also relevant that the tri-media were present; 3 newspapers, 2 radio stations and all major network channels were represented. Importantly, Erie County had the record of deviating a little less from national voting pattern as far as the twentieth century was concern. During the study, there were 3,000 sampling respondents, 600 persons each for 4 stratified samples referred to as "panel" and 600 persons each also for the 3 control groups. Panel and control groups were used as there were qualms that the process would greatly affect the results which eventually turned out to be the otherwise.
There were several influential factors that could affect voters of Erie County and that included political index, religion, demography, socio-economic status and cross pressures among all others. There were three main patterns of change in cross pressure voting. According to the study, 28% were crystallizers (Lowery and DeFleur, 1983). They changed vote up to the last minute. On the other hand, 15% were waverers. Waverers were those whose decision pattern was like a wave. They started out with a clear decision then during the campaign period slowly changing sides but then later vote on their original choice. Finally, the party changers were self-explanatory and composed 8% of the samples. Cross pressure votes were simply a delay of the final decision of the voter. As such, potential voters whose low interest in the campaign and the cross pressure voters became media campaign targets.
The challenge with media-mediated campaign was how to effectively deliver the message that a certain candidate was way far better than the others. The problem also lies on media exposure. How well-spread was the exposure. Surprisingly, radio comprised 50% of those surveyed when asked about the most important source of political information (Lowery and DeFleur, 1983). The media however, was a big contributor in political campaigning through three major patterns of influence; activation (awareness), reinforcement (continuing justification) and conversion (switch sides through persuasion). The two-step flow of communication stated that ideas and arguments would from the media to the opinion leaders then finally to the less active portions of the population.
It was emphasized in this chapter the importance of mass media in influencing the voting behavior of the people. There maybe other factors that can affect any individual's vote but media-mediated campaign can greatly affect voter's decision up to the last second of the election period.
Therefore, with all these political propaganda and strategy using mass media, Franklin D. Roosevelt won the political race.
Chapter 5 Audiences for Daytime Radio Serials: Uses and Gratifications
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