Political Campaigns, News Media, and Interest Groups
“When I took the oath of office, I pledged loyalty to only one special interest group – ‘we the people’.” – Ronald Reagan
No doubt about it, news media and interest groups greatly influence American politics.
Today’s modern media has many components including the news media, which includes print media (newspapers, magazines, etc.), radio (AM news radio, etc.), television (ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, etc.), and digital (Internet news, social networks, blogs, etc.). (OConner, Sabato, 2018)
The news media can affect public policy via agenda setting and framing:
- Agenda setting is how individual news media decide what news they will showcase and how important the news story is by providing greater or lesser attention to the news story. (OConner, Sabato, 2018)
- Framing is how individual news media covers the news story and how such coverage can steer public policy one way or another. (OConner, Sabato, 2018)
Major news media outlets:
Interest groups are non-profit, voluntary organizations that seek to affect public policy. (Boundless, n.d.) Although there are a number of ways to classify interest groups, for the sake of simplicity we shall use this model:
- Business/Labor/Professional Interest Groups: organizations that want to affect economic public policy that benefits their members.
- Examples: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Medical Association, and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
- Ideological Interest Groups: organizations that advocate public policy based on a set of beliefs.
- Example: American Conservative Union
- Public Interest Groups: organizations that want to affect public policy that benefits not just its members but also society.
- Single Issue Interest Groups: organizations that advocate one public policy concern.
- Example: National Rifle Association
Many if not most prominent interest groups form Political Action Committees (PACs). PACs are groups that raise funds in order to contribute money to a political candidate and/or officeholder. PACs are limited on how much money they can contribute. As of the 2019-2020 election cycle, PACs can give each candidate and/or officeholder $5000 during the primary and general election. (CRP, 2019)
More information about Political Action Committees (PACs) and Super Political Action Committees (SPACs) can be found on the Center for Responsive Politics Open Secrets website:
See the following for examples of PAC donations to a House of Representative during the 2019-2020 election cycle:
In this week’s discussion, you will analyze a political campaign’s finances, campaign advertising, media coverage, and special interest involvement.
Directions: Using the required, academic readings, and supplemental academic research, please address the following while adhering to the Discussion Board Rubric:
Select a recent candidate or officeholder at the federal level that you considered supporting with your vote. Note: you may reuse the same person from the Unit 7 Discussion. Analyze this person based on the following criteria:
- Election and Campaign Financing
- How much money did the person raise and spend during the election campaign?
- Donations from individuals?
- Donations from political parties?
- Donations from Political Action Committees (PACs)?
- How much – in total – did all the contributing PACs spend during the election campaign on your person?
- Select two PACs that contributed to the person’s campaign.
- Provide a brief summary of the political action committee.
- Analyze the purpose of this political action committee.
- Does this PAC help or hinder our democracy?
- What does an analysis of the person’s campaign finances tell you?
- Campaign Advertising
- Select one political advertisement from the person’s election campaign.
- Summarize the advertisement.
- What was the message?
- What is the target audience?
- Was this advertisement effective?
- Include an APA link to the advertisement or embed the advertisement into the discussion post.
- The News Media
- Select one news article, video, or political cartoon about your person’s election campaign.
- Analyze how the news media sets the agenda and frames the news story regarding your person’s candidacy or current, public service.
- Articulate, in detail, how this news story helps or hinders your person’s electability.
- Include an APA link to the news media article, video, or political cartoon.
Boundless. (n.d.). Boundless Political Science. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-politicalscience/chapter/types-of-interest-groups
Data on Campaign Finance, Super PACs, Industries, and Lobbying. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.opensecrets.org/.
OConnor, K., & Sabato, L. (2018). American Government: Roots and reform. Columbus: Pearson.
What is a PAC? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacfaq.php.