Influence of Media in Political Campaigns


            In a democratic country where the public officers are chosen by the people through election, campaign is a necessary tool in gaining the citizen’s vote. Through campaign, the candidate makes his identity known to the electorates. In addition, the candidate’s future plans are made known to the people. The electorate, in return, would be assessing their choice according to the result or information they gathered from the campaigns. The candidate’s popularity would further depend on the affectivity of the campaign tools that he or she utilized.

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Media as Tool in Political Campaigns

            One of the commonly used tools in political campaign is the media. Media is commonly known as a means by which data or information flows from the source to the receiver. It can be in the form of newspaper, television, radio, and even internet. Before television was widely used, political candidates were commonly using print media or newspaper to campaign. However, in 1960’s, television was rated as the highest or foremost source of the electorates about political issues. Newspaper was rated second followed by radio (Polsby, Wildavsky, and Hopkins 79).

            The use of television was believed to have been primarily influenced by the televised debates between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon (Polsby, Wildavsky, and Hopkins 79). As a result, the result of the election was assessed to have been influenced by the media. Since then, television was highly preferred by the candidates in wooing the electorates’ votes. Print media or newspaper was also strengthened by the journalists in featuring different candidates in their column. Radio, on the other hand, served as the source of information for those who do not have television (Polsby, Wildavsky, and Hopkins 79).

            Through times the use of media was intensified. The political candidates highly regarded the effectiveness of the media, while media owners found election as a tool for financial gains. From 1972 to 1988, political advertisements were used as a topic during segments in television, radio, and even in columns in newspapers. This way, criticisms from journalists leaves a bearing on the viewers’, listeners’, and readers’ decision-making (Gottlieb). As a result, media’s influence in campaigns heightened.

            In 1990’s, the media created new avenues for candidates to intensify political campaigns. These were in the form of talk show interview, electronic town hall meeting, infomercial, and Websites (Ginsberg). Through talk shows, the candidate addresses the listeners and viewers about their candidacy and policies without criticisms or questions from journalist or show hosts (Ginsberg). Candidates such as Pat Buchanan used this method. Similarly, town meetings enable the candidate to address the voters and have a chance to highlight their needs and concerns directly. The only difference is the setting, as it is done in town halls. On the other hand, infomercial involves buying an airtime in television where a candidate can present his or her views on different issues that concern the whole nation (Ginsberg). Usually, only wealthy candidates like Ross Perot and Steve Forbes utilized infomercial (Ginsberg). Finally, candidates are now taking advantage of the benefits of the World Wide Web by putting up a personal website that contains all useful information about them.

The use of media was even more essential as it made presidential debates possible in 21st century. During the campaign of Al Gore and George W. Bush, televised debate was widespread and was an effective tool for Bush’s success (Ginsberg). At present, the campaigns of Obama and Clinton are highly influenced by media. In addition, different issues concerning against one candidate is made known through media. Everyday, the headlines are focused on updates about the two candidates. The people, on the other hand, find media as the efficient and effective means of knowing more about their candidates.

Pros of Media

Media offers several advantages to both candidates and the electorates. One of these benefits is the extent that the campaign can cover. Through television, radio, and even print media, the candidate is able to address the whole nation about his or her policies without the hassles of travelling from one place to another. This saves the candidate time and effort. However, for a candidate to fully utilize the advantages of media, the words used in their advertisement should be persuasive and powerful enough to obtain the citizens’ votes.

As for the electorate, the political campaigns broadcasted by media through television, newspapers, radio, and internet make it easier and convenient for them to receive updates about all the candidates. In fact, the media has always influenced the Electoral College per se because all events about election, from campaign to assumption of office, are presented to the people. This way, any person can easily determine the possible result of the election (Trent and Friedenberg 80).

Televised debates are also specifically beneficial for the electorate. Through televised debates, the potential of a candidate can be measured. His or her policies and views on current issues can also be well understood by the citizens (Trent and Friedenberg 80). In addition to this, the voters’ expectations and concerns are also made known to the candidates through interviews and other programs tackling such issues. Thus, the mass media has served as a channel for the communication between the candidates and the electorate.

Cons of Media

Despite the remarkable advantages of media during campaigns, it has also several shortcomings. There is no doubt that media campaign is influential and is the basis of a vast number of voters in weighing their choices. Thus, an exposure of one voter to a limited information also limits his criteria in choosing. In addition, campaigns in media are stained with “propaganda” that can easily manipulate the voters’ choice (Popkin 70). Moreover, the advertisements or campaigns in media are biased as it only presents the good about the candidate and his views. This way, a voter who only bases his decision on media would likely judge according to the beauty of the presentation or on the good thing stressed in the campaign. There would be no more assessment and intelligent decision-making on the part of the voter. Furthermore, a candidate who has enough money can manipulate the media by buying more airtime for his campaign. In which case, the voters’ choice is affected by the popularity of the candidate.


            Over the past several years, media has been influential during elections. It can influence the voters’ choice through the advertisements, discussions, and criticisms. It also allows the candidate campaign in full range. Through the years, it has been relied upon by the candidates and the voters by making the communication between the two easy and efficient.

Today, the candidates are using the media not only to make their self fame but also to ruin the reputation of other candidates. The media is being used as a toll in informing the people about the stand of the opponent to a particular issue that will essentially affect the voter’s choice. This has been observed during the recent presidential campaign. With this trend, it can be assumed that in the future, media will always be rated as the major tool in connecting the candidates and the electorate.

Works cited

Ginsberg, Benjamin. “Political Campaign.” MSN Encarta. 2008.  21 August 2008 <>.

Polsby, Nelson, W., Wildavsky, Aaron, and Hopkins, David, A. Presidential Elections: Strategies and Structures of American Politics. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

Popkin, Samuel L. The Reasoning Voter: Communication and Persuasion in Presidential Campaigns. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991.

Stephen, Gottieb, S. “The Media’s Role in Political Campaigns.” 1992. Eric Digest.  ED346527. 21 August 2008 ;;.

Trent, Judith, and Friedenberg, Robert, V. Political Campaign Communication: Principles and Practices. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman ; Littlefield, 2008.


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Influence of Media in Political Campaigns. (2017, Jan 04). Retrieved from