According to Voncile M. Smith (1984), the role of the media in the advancement of our informational society will naturally continue and will probably expand even more in importance”ť (p. 7). The media play a major role in decision-making process of the voters, shaping social concepts and reinforcing current standards. As a rule, the voters’ perceptions about the political decision depend on the role of the media in this or that political situation. According to the research, any “political campaign takes form through communication”ť and is based on symbolic interactionism and the voters’ perceptions of the candidates’ activity. In this research, the respondents were divided into several groups based on the political information they received from the mass media. The following types of the media were used in the research: magazines, newspapers, television and radio. The results of the research indicated that the voters’ attention to political issues covered in the mass media had “a stabilizing effect on voters’ perceptions of proximity with the preferred candidate”ť (Swindel & Miller, 2012, p.78).
In addition, it is found that communication associated with political campaigns is effective if it is received through the mass media, therefore “attention to the mass media should be associated with attitude stability”ť (Swindel & Miller, 2012, p. 76). As voters are divided into different groups according to their political preferences, the decision-making process of voting is a non-determined choice, although political identities and views can predict the choice of voters. In addition, it is known that voting is always an individual choice. Of course, it is influenced by some external and internal factors, including the mechanisms of interpersonal and social influence through the use of the media. However, it is clear that the decision making process of voters is always carried out at the individual level. It means that voting does not occur at random and cannot be fully determined.
THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN THE REPLACEMENT OF THE POLITICIAN’S INTELLECT FOR ENTERTAINMENT
It is found that in the United States, the majority of people construct their political knowledge from many different sources of election information, which includes not only political campaigns, but also the news and entertainment media, polls, political advertising and televised debates. In this case, it is necessary to discuss how the media replace the intellect of the politician for entertainment. Of course, people can be misinformed when inaccurate and distorted information is presented and discussed in the media. The media can provide support to people in such issues as the character traits of the candidates, the opposing viewpoints, etc. Many people suggest that political advertising and televised debates can be viewed as entertainment programs. Maria Armoudian and Ann Crigler (2012) discuss this issue in the article Media Effects in a Constructionist Model. The author states that today entertainment programs have already become “an important source of political information”ť, but particularly for young people who prefer to use the intellect of politicians, their debates and advertising as the source of entertainment, for example, late-night TV shows (Comedy Central’s Daily Show an others). It is clear that today “the entertainment media reach larger audiences than news media”ť, that is why political information in entertainment programs is more widely accessed”ť, in accordance with Maria Armoudian and Ann Crigler (2012, p. 311). Neil Postman (2006) states in his book that many televised debates have been transformed into entertainment, for example, the Cable News Network program Crossfire. In addition, Postman (2006) is sure that Americans are “amusing themselves to death”ť through televised public discussions not only of politics, but also of religious issues, education, healthcare, etc. (p. 4). Politicians in the USA can be viewed as the people who “possess both a talent and a format to amuse”ť (Postman, 2006, p. 5).
THE PROMOTION OF CANDIDATES THROUGH SOME SPECIFIC CHANNELS
The media helps in promotion of political candidates through different channels. One of the major trends in the media coverage of politics is campaign communication. As a rule, parties spend their money on the so-called party-building activities, including polling and pre-voting activities. The most effective campaigns include advertising on television and radio. Political advertising plays a significant role in political promotion, and political candidates in the USA are given a chance to purchase time for political ads which will promote the interests of the given party or political candidate. According to Lynda Lee Kaid (2004), “as a form of political communication, political advertising is both celebrated and reveled”ť(p. 155). Over the past five-six decades, political advertising has turned into the major form of communication between candidates and voters in the United States. It means that political advertising has also “become a staple of communication in democracies around the world”ť (Kaid, 2004, p. 155). Although the role of political advertising is closely connected with the commercial meaning, it can be viewed as an effective promotional tool for candidates who participate in electoral contests. One can find many different types of political advertising channels, including “display advertising and posters, pamphlets and brochures, direct mail, newspaper and magazine advertising, broadcast and cable advertising, the Internet and other electronic distribution systems”ť (Kaid, 2004, p. 157). The early forms of political promotion in the USA and other democratic countries include placards, posters, and handbills. Of course, the televised political advertising is now the main form of communication between candidates and voters in political elections. Lynda Lee Kaid (2004) states that “candidates, political parties and special interest groups spend millions of dollars on promotion through special channels”ť(p. 157). As the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, the content of the printed media should not be controlled.Â However, the media should not contain false and libelous information.
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that today the mass media are effectively used in politics. The majority of politicians recognize the significance of the media in political campaigns, including presidential, congressional or local political races. That is why they spend much money on political advertising which plays an important role in proposition and ballot elections as well as in the advocacy of certain public policy issues by different interest groups. The media can promote candidates through different channels. However, it is found that the media can replace the intellect of politicians for entertainment, as many political ads, polls and TV debates can be viewed as the source of entertainment.