Election Reading Recommendation

musserWe often forget that previous election campaigns juggled and were shaped by new media forms just like our own, albeit with different “contraptions.” Politicking and Emergent Media, US Presidential Elections of the 1890s, by Yale American Studies/Cinema Studies professor, Charles Musser, is a fascinating read about the election campaigns of the 1890s (and I mean read–in sense that as erudite as it is it’s very readable).  In those days the Democratic party was the less adventursome one in terms of media–it was comfortably ensconced in newspaper formats.  It was the Republicans who experimented more with new media that included the steriopticon (what’s that?) and later motion pictures, telephones, and phonographs.  Writes Lisa Gitelman (New York University), “Charles Musser shows how screens first entered American politics. Whether they are true politics junkies or frothing critics of America’s quadrennial horse race, readers will be tickled by the resemblances between presidential campaigns then and now. This is media history of the finest kind, rendered by one of our most accomplished scholars of early cinema.”

I like Jeffrey Alexander’s observation, writing about the book. “It turns out that technology has been newly emerging over the past three centuries, and the performance of politics has long been deeply transformed as a result.”

If you’re multitasking as you listen to the endless election and post-election punditry, consider opting for this book in your lap rather than just another screen.

‘Tis the Season for Political Advertising Resources

Don’t forget about the Political TV Ad Archive if you are interested in searching and viewing 2016 political TV ads in select key markets. (I wrote about it in previous post in February.) 

Incidentally, The Political TV Ad Archive is a project of the Internet Archive which just announced a new collaboration with the Annenberg Public Policy Center  “to help journalists and the public better understand how television news shows present what happens in the debates in post-debate TV coverage.” APPC will do the analyzing of post-debate coverage while the IA will provide researchers with real-time access to debates and post-debate coverage.  See press release here.

ad2If you are interested in tracking what candidates are spending on ads down to the city level, the Lippincott Library has the tool for you in Kantar Media’s Ad$pender.  AdSpender provides advertising expenditure information on brand/product categories, industries, and companies across various media types including cable and network TV, broadcast radio networks, magazines, and newspapers. Political campaign ads are one of the “products” in its data offering.  Want to compare candidate spending in two battleground states? Colleague Mia Wells has just posted a very useful walk-through in Datapoints: A blog from the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School of Business on how to navigate AdSpender for just this sort of query, Election 2016: By the Ad$pend.

 

 

 

 

Political TV Ad Archive

Last month the Internet Archive launched its new Political TV Ad Archive.  Just in time for the kickoff of primary season.  So far the site has amassed over 30,000 ad airings, each accompanied by underlying, downloadable data on how often it has aired, where, and when in 20 TV markets throughout eight key primary states. But that’s not all–ads are also linked to fact-checking and follow-the-money journalism by the project’s partners: the American Press Institute, the Center for Responsive Politics, the Center for Public Integrity, the Duke Reporters’ Lab, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker.  Explains Nancy Watzman, Managing Editor of the Internet Archive’s Television Archive:  “The ad collection also gathers instances where news broadcasts have played excerpts of ads or even entire ads as part of their reporting — in other words, “earned media.” For example, Trump’s first ad, which focused on immigration, was aired several times as part of news reports. Political TV Ad Archive 01On the new website, each ad is archived on its own page, along with downloadable metadata on how often the ad has aired, on which TV stations, where, and when. These data also include information on who is sponsoring the ad, the subject(s) covered in the ad, which candidates are targeted in the ad, and the type of legal designation of the sponsor — e.g., super PAC, campaign committee, 501(c), and so on.”

The website also features links to other complementary resources such as Political Ad Sleuth and the Wesleyan Media Project, and a blog with informative posts such as Five negative ads with big air time in New Hampshire and  When is an ad an ad? Or, lessons along the way, to pull up two recent ones.

It’s been a pleasure to watch the resource environment for political campaign ads steadily grow over the years but with this archive tracking not just ads but airing instances, including how particular ads reverberate in the media, I’d say the research landscape has been transformed. Students used to pose questions about political advertising influence but for lack of data would often have to back off and pursue more general questions and approaches, or stick to content analysis.  Now they can dive into specific markets and see which ads are doing the heavy lifting or combine content analyses with broadcasting data that is free and right at their fingertips.