Griffonage-Dot-Com’s Graphic Look at the Electoral College 1896-2016

fiftieth-featuredI’m always happy to give Patrick Feaster‘s excellent blog on historical media another shout out.  Today, being the day the Electoral College votes, you may be interested in this historical overview.  And since it’s 2016 why not have the story told via visual data.
A Graphic Look at Effects of the Electoral College, 1896-2016


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,, 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.

Special Issues of Quarterly Journal of Speech and Communication Monographs

RQ2Two NCA journals have noteworthy current issues. The Quarterly Journal of Speech (Volume 101, Issue 1, 2015) celebrates its centennial with two unique approaches for the issue. First, former journal editors and book review editors were asked to contribute essays reflecting on “where our scholarship has been, where it is, where it is headed, and where it should or might go in the future.” Then two other scholars in the field were invited to respond to their essays. Essay topics include how sensation and language interact, democratic dissent, televised presidential debates (our own Kathleen Hall Jamieson sets the table), the research trajectory of rhetorical studies, four abandoned paths of rhetoric scholarship that should be resurrected, rhetorical history as deployed by Barack Obama, and the origins of Communication Studies as reflected in the first five years of QJS. Follows is the book review section as per usual for any issue except in this one “each of the contributors…was asked to select a book of his or her choosing and examine how it illustrates a form of scholarship that should, or likely will, appear in future book review sections of this journal. Contributors were encouraged to consider any work (including extra-disciplinary or even historical publications) that somehow exemplifies new possibilities for emergent research in our field.” You may want to check out  (literally, as in pull from the stacks!) some of the titles selected, new and old. Only A Defence of History… and Talk Like TED… are not available from Penn Libraries:

Einbahnstrasse/Walter Benjamin
History and Class Consciousness/Georg Lukacs
A Defence of History and Class Consciousness: Tailism and the Dialectic/Georg Lukacs
The Hermeneutics of the Subject: Lectures at the Collège De France 1981–1982/Michel Foucault
The Ruptures of American Capital: Women of Color Feminism and the Culture of Immigrant Labor/Grace Kyungwon Hong
Ambient Commons: Attention in the Age of Embodied Information/Malcolm McCullough
Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being/Thomas Rickert
Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of Voice and the Oral Imaginary/Brandon LaBelle
Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings/Juan Maria Rodriguez
Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents/Lisa Gitelman
Diana and Beyond: White Femininity, National Identity, and Contemporary Media Culture/Raka Shome
The Fourteenth Amendment and the Privileges and Immunities of American Citizenship/Kurt T. Lash
Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds/Carmine Gallo
Preludes to Pragmatism: Toward a Reconstruction of Philosophy/Philip Kitcher
Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things/Jane Bennett
American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History/Jenell Johnson
Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity/Nelson Maldonado-Torres

cmThen there is the special issue of Communication Monographs (Volume 82, Issue 1, March 2015) titled: Biological and Physiological Approaches to Communication, guest edited by Tamara D, Afifi. The issue features “a wide array of research areas (media, interpersonal relationships, language and social interaction) across the field of communication, including a piece by Annenberg’s Emily Falk (along with Matthew Brook O’Donnell and Matthew D. Lieberman), Social in, Social Out: How the Brain Responds to Social Language With More Social Language.

Incidentally Communication Monographs it is the third major communication journal this year to devote a special issue to the influence of physiological processes on the field with Communication Methods & Measures‘ first issue of 2015 titled: Biology and Brains—Methodological Innovations in Communication Science (edited by Rene Weber) and  Journal of Media Psychology‘s call for papers last year for an issue titled: Brain, Mind and Media: Neuroscience Meets Media Psychology (also being edited by Dr.Weber). Keep an eye out for this one soon.

2015 World Press Freedom Index

The news is grim from Reporters Without Borders which has just published its annual index on press freedom around the world, 2015 World Press Freedom Index.     rwb

The findings are “incontestable. There was a drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. Two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed for the 2015 World Press Freedom Index performed less well than in the previous year. The annual global indicator, which measures the overall level of violations of freedom of information in 180 countries year by year, has risen to 3,719, an 8 percent increase over 2014 and almost 10 percent compared with 2013. The decline affected all continents.”

Data for the 180 countries includes an Abuses score, an Underlying situation score, and an Overall score.  Each country’s variance in rank and overall score from the previous year, 2014, is also indicated. Besides this charted data, the Index provides a narrative as well, pointing out the most striking developments in the year, overarching themes, and insight on how press freedom correlates with other country indicators.


Special Issue on Rhetoric and Gun Violence in R&PA

rap.17.4_front_smRhetoric & Public Affairs (Volume 14, Number 4, Winter 2014) is titled “Special Issue on Civility” but it’s the title from the editors’ Introduction “Weapons and Words: Rhetorical Studies of the Gabrielle Giffords Shootings” that better captures the issue.


Weapons and Words: Rhetorical Studies of the Gabrielle Giffords Shootings /Thomas A. Hollihan, Francesca Marie Smith
“Out of Chaos Breathes Creation”: Human Agency, Mental Illness, and Conservative Arguments Locating Responsibility for the Tucson Massacre / Francesca Marie Smith, Thomas A. Hollihan
“Enduring” Incivility: Sarah Palin and the Tucson Tragedy / Beth L. Boser, Randall A. Lake
Facing Moloch: Barack Obama’s National Eulogies and Gun Violence / David A. Frank
Gabrielle Giffords: A Study in Civil Courage / G. Thomas Goodnight
Civility, Democracy, and National Politics / Mary E. Stuckey, Sean Patrick O’Rourke
Forum: The Second Amendment as Demanding Subject: Figuring the Marginalized Subject in Demands for an Unbridled Second Amendment / Laura J. Collins

For those who want even more on this topic, the previous issue of R&PA (Volume 13, Number 3, Fall 2014) features: Dimensions of Temporality in President Obama’s Tucson Memorial Address / Brian Amsden

Rhetoric & Public Affairs is available from Penn Libraries eJournals.

Analysis of 2012 Candidate FB Pages in Online Information Review

You’ve heard a lot about the impact of social media on political campaigns–only a matter of time before someone did a content analysis of Obama/Romney camp Facebook posts Online Information Review (Volume 37, Issue 2, 2013) features research that compares the 2012 candidate‘s Facebook pages by analyzing 513 posts in the three months leading up to election day. 

Like me!: Analyzing the 2012 presidential candidates’ Facebook pages
Jenny Bronstein


Purpose. The present study reports the findings of a qualitative and quantitative content analysis of the Facebook pages of the two presidential candidates in the 2012 US presidential election.
Design/methodology/approach – Design. The sample contained 513 posts collected during the last three months of the 2012 US presidential election. The analysis of the candidates’ pages consisted of three phases: (1) the identification of the different elements of the Aristotelian language of persuasion, (2) the identification of the subjects that appear on the posts, (3) the identification of additional roles that the Facebook pages play in the campaigns.
Findings – Findings. Findings show that both candidates used an emotional and motivational appeal to create a social capital and to present a personal image that revealed very little of their personal lives. Statistical analysis show the numbers of comments and likes given to the posts were influenced by the element of persuasion used on the posts. Results show that campaigns wanted to retain control of the message displayed on the pages by posting information on a small number of non-controversial subjects. Finally, the content analysis revealed that the Facebook pages were used for fund-raising purposes, and for the mobilization of supporters. The Facebook pages of both candidates present an alternative way to do politics called fandom politics that is based not on logic or reason but on the affective sensibility of the audiences, discouraging dissent and encouraging affective allegiances between the candidate and his supporters.
Originality/value – Value of the study. This study presents an innovative way of analyzing the use of social media sites as a tool for the dissemination of political information and reveals utilization of these media for the creation of social and economic capital by politicians.

Divinatio Asks: Is Democracy Sick of Its Own Media?

I usually point out Penn or open access resources but here’s a rare exception.  A recent issue of Divinatio: Studia Culturologica Series (Volume 35, Spring-Summer 2012) poses the question: Is Democracy Sick of Its Own Media? 

The following scholars weigh in:

Ivaylo Znepolski: The Soft Dictatorship of the Media (Introductory essay by the issue’s editor)
Elihu Katz: Back to the Street: When Media and Opinion Leave Home
Jeffrey Goldfarb: “The Politics of Small Things” Meets “Monstration:” On Fox News, Occupy Wall Street and Beyond
Nick Couldry: Relegitimation Crisis: Beyond the Dull Compulsion of Media-Saturated Life
Helge Ronning: The Social or the Interpersonal? New and Old Public Spheres
Georgi Lozanov: The Media Start Talking in Mother Tongue 
Paul Frosh: The Showing of Sharedness: Monstration, Media and Social Life  
Jaeho Kang: Digital Constellations: Social Media and the Crisis of (Old) Democracy in South Korea

It’s a weighty issue, definitely worth checking out. Divinatio: Studia Culturologica Series currently does not have a website but if you want to pursue any of these articles it shouldn’t be hard to get your hands on them thanks to trusty interlibrary loan services available in most libraries. While not many US libraries carry this journal (published in Sophia, Bulgaria), Stanford, Yale, Penn State, University of Virginia, University of California at Berkeley and some others have bragging rights. Seek and ye shall find.