Media’s Influence in the Election

Written by Firas Suqi ’13

“Asking what the role of media is in the presidential election is like asking what the role of water is for fish.”

David Amor (Knox College Instructor of Journalism and Anthropology-Sociology) mentioned this quote when explaining the influence of media in this year’s presidential election. Over the last couple of decades, there has been a tremendous growth in the sheer amount of media sources available due to the increased access of information which technology continues to produce and make available.

David Amor

It is through the influence of media that we, the consumer of it, use to make our own judgments on who to vote for or whether we should vote at all.

Very few of us have had the opportunity to meet or discuss the issues at stake with either candidate in the election. Since the general public doesn’t have this opportunity, we rely on narratives spun by various sources of media in order to understand the profile of each candidate. This is what Professor Amor called our “political imaginaries” — representations of our world outside of direct experience that allow us to construct our own viewpoints and opinions.

While political imaginaries are generated from our own understandings, political narratives are a strategy that candidates use to influence our imaginaries.

“The media don’t tell us what to think; they tell us what to think about.”

This is a quote (from Ben Bagdikian) that Professor Amor cited and I found to be reflective of the pervasiveness found in political advertisements in influencing how and what we think about a candidate.

As we all can attest, political campaigns are starting to dominate commercial space on all sorts of television programming and online media.

By conceiving each advertisement as a narrative, I will now pay particular attention to the characteristics each candidate is trying to demonstrate in order to seem as though he is the protagonist that will eventually earn the right to sit in the Oval Office.

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