AMST-388 Media & American Elections
Spring for 2017-2018
Media and American Elections

Media have been an essential element of American elections since the founding. At no time in history have the media been more pervasive and integral to campaigns than during the present era. The 2008 presidential election, in fact, may represent a watershed in campaign media, with the proliferation of an array of novel election communication techniques, although it is too soon to tell.

The course will begin with an examination of the media/election nexus in historical context. It will track the evolution of election media from the era of the partisan press to the current period which is characterized by an almost overwhelming amount of information disseminated via a diverse array of communication platforms. The majority of the course will deal with present day election media. We will discuss the ways in which the structure of the American electoral process, as well as the laws and rules governing campaigns, shape media coverage, candidate strategies, and citizen access and contributions to election information. Specific types of election media will be examined in depth, ranging from traditional print and television news, ads, candidate debates, and polling. The final segment of the course will deal with new media and elections, and will investigate the election online, citizen journalists and elections, and digital innovations, such as podcasts. We will conclude by speculating about the future of election media.

A number of core questions form the basis for the course: What should the role of election media be in America? What is the role of election media in America? How do election media promote or diverge from democratic ideals?

This course will meet Tuesdays in the Car Barn, room 301, 12:15-2:05pm
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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