Legacy media are stage setters for social media actors, agrees Charles Dunn, author of “The Seven Laws of Presidential leadership.”
Social media have come into their own as major players in political debate, he says via e-mail, “but legacy media continue to play the primary role in setting the stage for debate and discussion about political issues and personalities.”
Certainly the allocation of resources in the two campaigns leading up to Tuesday night supports this view.
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.