Role of the Media & Voters

A number of disparate elements are seen as shaping the ways in which voters organize and then understand the political world. Conover and Feldman state that some theorists advocate a sociological view emphasizing the social origins of mass belief systems while others offer a psychological perspective that stresses the individualistic origins of belief systems. Alternatively, Rosenberg takes the position that in organizing political thought, individuals engage in three structures of thinking (i.e., sequential, linear, and systematic) that results in the formation of views that are not necessarily consistent and which are amenable to the influence of the mass media.

In describing the role of the media, Campbell, Converse, Miller, and Stokes (1964) suggested that individuals who follow political campaigns or track political issues through the mass communications media are engaged in a type of informal participation. However, the degree to which an individual "participates" in political activity by following the media can vary significantly. Some individuals use the mass media as a principle means of relating to politics, while Campbell, et al (1964) maintain that the vast majority of Americans are far more passive in following political campaigns in the mass media and tend to screen out vast amounts of content.

While this factor must be taken into consideration in developing a general media strategy for a presidential campaign, it would be



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