Posted by: bahughes13 | October 16, 2011

Will Media Impacts Change in 2012 Election Cycle?

We know that President Obama’s campaign excelled in the use of social media during the 2008 race. Already we see the Republican Presidential candidates embracing YouTube as evidenced in this article:

It’s a given that every major campaign will have to employ such tactics this time around, but to what end?

Voters will be bombarded with very targeted Facebook ads, likes and dislikes by their “friends”, and tweets from any and all interested parties. As evidenced by the Pew research I mentioned last week, people believe what they hear in social media is very close in quality to what they experience in mass media news coverage.

John Sherry’s article (Media Effects Theory and the Nature/Nurture Debate) seems to support those poll results: “Our brains have not evolved fast enough to keep pace with changes in technology… As a result of evolution, our ‘old brains’ automatically respond to media images as if they were real and react accordingly.”

In the McCombs/Shaw article (The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media), the authors make the point that “judgments of the voters seem to reflect the composite of the mass media coverage.” But what happens when social media takes a larger piece of the communication pie? What happens when the messages that we are bombarded with are more targeted and more polarizing? Is there a difference if the message originates with the campaign itself? Or via personal contacts who have their own agendas? The next 13 months will provide communication researchers with a prime atmosphere for investigation.

Questions for Discussion:

1.  In McLuhan, he states that “numbness is the result of any prolonged terror… The price of eternal vigilance is indifference.” Now that we’ve passed the 10 year anniversary of 9/11, how long can we as Americans continue to care? Is indifference inevitable? Or can it be countered by continued, strategic use of media?

2.  What will have more impact on the outcome in the 2012 election:  campaigns use of social media or the general public’s?

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