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The pulse of expectations: The evolution of news making in United States presidential campaigns

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Title: The pulse of expectations: The evolution of news making in United States presidential campaigns
Author(s): Craig, Richard Deran
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Nerone, John C.
Department / Program: Communications
Discipline: Communications
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Journalism Political Science, General Mass Communications
Abstract: In the area of television and American presidential campaigning, little work has been done to explore the rapid, significant changes in the structure of news coverage brought on by two factors--satellite transmission and the recent proliferation of public opinion polls. I argue that with the combination of heightened day-to-day coverage of campaigns (made easy by satellite technology) and the new omnipresence of poll data, campaign coverage has largely degenerated into a day-to-day series of contests, with candidates portrayed as succeeding or failing each day to meet "expectations"--the unwritten notions of what a candidate at a given position in the polls should do on the campaign trail. I refer to this system of coverage as the "Pulse of Expectations." To examine the development of the system, this study analyzed the content of transcripts of CBS Evening News broadcasts during presidential election campaigns from 1968-1992, looking specifically at stories that mention results from national public opinion polls about the given year's presidential election. The study reveals that the overall number of poll-related stories has risen dramatically in recent election years, and stories about polls have also been placed higher and higher in newscasts in recent campaigns. It also finds that positive or negative portrayals of candidates virtually always correspond with the candidate's positive or negative trends in recent polls, and that stories mentioning expectations of candidates have become much more common. This analysis concludes by arguing that such a system is actively counterproductive to the purpose of finding candidates with qualities desirable in a president.
Issue Date: 1995
Type: Text
Language: English
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/21809
Rights Information: Copyright 1995 Craig, Richard Deran
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog: AAI9624326
OCLC Identifier: (UMI)AAI9624326
 

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