30-second Politics: Political Advertising in the Eighties

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Praeger, 1989 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 237 pages
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Advertising overwhelms news coverage. That is the essence of the point Montague Kern drives home repeatedly throughout her insightful examination of political advertising in the eighties. . . . Any professional interested in political advertising would profit from reading this book. It also would be useful to an undergraduate class on political communication or advertising.

"Journal of Communication"

Kern's work joins a spate of books published in the 1980s on the nature, production, effect, and importance of televised political advertising in US elections. Not, however, old wine in a new bottle, it makes a distinct contribution in three respects. First, other works typically focus on spot advertising in only one type of electoral contest, primarily presidential, senatorial, or gubernatorial; Kern examines political ads at all electoral levels, in representative regions, and in a variety of mass media markets. Second, Kern employs multiple data gathering techniques beyond conventional content analysis of ads or surveys of voters' responses--interviews, a Delphic panel, and selected semiotic approaches. Finally, the book addresses changes in the character and impact of televised political spots since the 1970s, arguing that documentary news styles in ads have been replaced by those of commercial strategy of touching someone.' "Choice"

In this age of the media campaign where television is Americans' preferred source of candidate information, Montague Kern offers insightful scrutiny of political advertisements from 1972 to the present. This book closely examines a sample of ads and news coverage in the last stage of the 1984 presidential election, and in senatorial, gubernatorial, and house elections in four geographically diverse markets. Kern interviews campaign consultants as well as campaign managers and outlines the significant changes in political advertising over the past two decades. She finds, on the basis of an ad sample, that most competitive senatorial and gubernatorial races in 1986 used negative advertising. The book goes on to explain the rise of negative advertising in the presidential race of 1988.

In an era in which media consultants are increasingly assuming primary responsibility for press relations, the study demonstrates that ads can overwhelm news coverage and serve many purposes in addition to providing voters with campaign information. The informed general reader seeking a better understanding of the political advertisement phenomenon, journalists who cover political campaigns, as well as scholars in communications and political science, will find "30-Second PoliticS" invaluable reading.

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About the author (1989)

MONTAGUE KERN is Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Media at Rutgers University.

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