According to the most recent report from the Wesleyan Media Project, the number of TV ads aired in the presidential general election passed the one million mark as of Oct. 29. The two candidates, their party committees, and supporting interest groups sponsored 1,015,615 ads since June 1, a 39.1 percent increase over 2008 and a 41 percent increase over 2004.
A recent student-conducted study from the Farmer School of Business at Miami University in Ohio also supports this media consumption model. When asked what media had the most influence on their knowledge of the issues in this election, 29 percent of student respondents said Fox News, 22 percent said social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and 12 percent said MSNBC.
The live element of Election Night gave a huge advantage to television, points out John Robinson, former editor of the News & Record newspaper in Greensboro, N.C., and adjunct journalism professor at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
“People get their quick updates on Twitter and Facebook, but they tune in to watch the events unfold live on television,” he says. “This is what the legacy networks already know from their sports events,” he adds, “where people will tweet and text during the event, but they stay tuned to watch it unfold in real time.”
And he says he watches as his students, using online searches, find and pass along content originating on sites belonging to major newspapers such as The Los Angeles Times and New York Times.
However, he points out, herein also lies the dark cloud growing around that silver lining.