Political Advertisements, News, and Political Communication in Local Places

By: Danilo Yanich  

The election of 2016 was unlike any we have seen. Political advertisement spending remained around the level of the 2012 campaign--$9.8B in total with $4.4B going to local television stations. Most of the local buy was for down ballot races. In the Presidential race, the losing candidate bought 75% of the ads, while the winning candidate reaped the benefit of $5 billion in free media. While much attention is directed toward the Presidential race, the more significant political ad spending occurs in Congressional election spending. Local candidates require political ads to convey their message. Citizens are inundated with political ads on local TV that often proclaim mutually exclusive visions of problems and solutions. The 2016 campaign laid bare the lack of trust that the public has in the media, especially in the breakdown of the “newsroom-community connection.” And, in this era of fake news, citizens are increasingly left to their own devices to sort out fact from fiction. In this mixed methods research project, we coded the content of 1552 local newscasts from September 5 to November 7 in ten TV markets across the U.S.—including battleground states—to examine the relationship between political ads and political stories. The data revealed almost 30,000 stories (4,000 political stories). That was measured against the 263,000 political ads that were aired within the markets. Our questions include, what was the relationship between local television news broadcasts and the political ads? What political stories are covered? What might it mean for political communication in communities?

Media Economics Journalism
Media Business
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Danilo Yanich

Professor, School of Public Policy & Administrtaion, University of Delaware, United States
DE, United States

I am a professor in the School of Public Policy & Administration at the University of Delaware where I direct the MA program in Urban Affairs & Public Policy. My interest is the nexus among media, citizenship & public policy.