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Each figure represents difference between percentage of voter change in direction of media's message and percentage in opposite direction. Positive figure, therefore, means that more change occurred in direction of media's message. The larger the figure, the greater the amount of change in one direction.
voter change on the twelve issue positions given little or no
television news coverage showed the same pattern. The change among
low exposure voters (+19.0) was nearly equal to the change among high
exposure voters (+21.8).
Newspapers: Level of newspaper exposure is strongly and consistently related to increased issue awareness (see Table 3). On all
six heavily covered issues, high newspaper readers showed a greater
gain than low newspaper readers.
The average change among those with
low newspaper exposure was +19.5 compared with a +33.7 gain among
voters with high newspaper exposure.
Undoubtedly, these results overestimate newspaper effects. Be
cause they are somewhat more politically interested and better edu
cated, high newspaper readers tend to improve their issue awareness
during a campaign for reasons other than exposure to newspaper con
This can be inferred from the changes in awareness on the
lightly covered issues. Even on these issues, some of which received minimal newspaper coverage at best, the gain among high exposure voters (+29.2) is considerably greater than the gain among low exposure voters (+11.8). 12
Televised Advertising: Level of exposure to televised political advertising is related to gain in voters' awareness on those issues heavily covered in political ads (see Table 4). The average change was +31.5 among voters with high advertising exposure and +23.7 among those with low advertising exposure.
Advertising effects occurred primarily on issues surfacing during the election year--Nixon's handling of the Soviet Union and China, the two candidates' positions on military spending, and McGovern's tax pro
changes in Voters' Issue Awareness for Level of Exposure
to Televised Political Advertising
posals. Changes on those issues which had been around longer--Nixon's handling of inflation and vietnam, and McGovern's position on vietnam withdrawal--were unaffected by advertising coverage.
We believe that these results probably underestimate the effects of televised political advertising. As a group, voters who watch considerable television programming are not particularly informed about politics. If change on the lightly covered issues can be taken as "normal," voters with high ad exposure had less change (+11.8) than those with low exposure (+16.4). Televised political advertising, by reversing this relationship on the issues it covered in the 1972 campaigning appears to have been a powerful communication channel.
controlling for Exposure to other sources
Television news, newspapers, and televised ads have many of the same voters in their audiences. For example, many voters who closely
14 read the newspapers are also regular television news viewers. consequently, an examination of exposure to one source, without controlling for exposure to the other sources, may hide important effects. The data for these controlled relationships is presented in Tables 5,
In these tables changes in issue awareness among voters with
low and high exposure to one source are presented within categories of
voter exposure to each of the other sources.
The controlled relationships provide important qualifiers to the previous findings. All three information sources now have some impact when exposure to one or both of the alternative sources is low, but only newspapers have any effects (and these are limited) when exposure to either alternative source is high.
Television News: High exposure to television news increased the
issue awareness of voters with low newspaper exposure. It does not,
however, increase the awareness of voters with high newspaper exposure or add to the knowledge of voters with either low or high advertising exposure.
Among voters with low newspaper exposure (see Table 5), those with high television news exposure show substantially more gain (+29.3) than those with low television news exposure (+16.2). These same effects do not appear among high newspaper readers. For these voters, those with high exposure to television news show less gain (+25.2) than those with low exposure (+46.8).
When television advertising exposure is controlled (see Table 6), exposure to television news shows no relation to increases in voters' issue awareness. Among voters with low ad exposure, those with high television exposure show a +32.0 gain, while those with low exposure show a +30.8 gain. And among high advertising exposure voters, the gain is +25.8 and +27.7 within the high and low television news exposure categories.
Newspapers: Increased newspaper exposure has a dramatic effect
on the issue awareness of voters with low exposure to television news
and televised advertising. Newspaper exposure also improves the issue awareness of voters with high exposure to televised political advertising. However, level of newspaper exposure shows no relationship to increased issue awareness among voters with high exposure to television news.
Among voters with low television news exposure (see Table 5). voters with high newspaper exposure show a gain of +46.8, three times greater than the +16.2 gain among those with low newspaper exposure.