recent book covers
Cambridge University Press
Communicating the campaign
Norris, John Curtice, David Sanders, Margaret Scammell, and Holli
published 1999 Sage
240 pages Cloth(0-7619-6073-2) Price £47.50 Paper (0-7619-6074-0)
On Message brings together a group of leading scholars to
provide a comprehensive and original analysis of the role and
impact of political communications during election campaigns.
Part 1 sets out the theoretical framework, the context of
election campaigning in Britain, and the methodology for
understanding media effects.
· Part 2
reviews party strategies and media coverage during the official
campaign and monitors the audience reaction.
Part 3 draws together evidence of the overall
impact of the 1997 British General Election campaign and
analyzes how far television and the press media influenced the
public's civic engagement, agenda priorities, and party
Drawing upon a triangulated research design,
combining the BES panel survey, content analysis and
experiments, this book transcends traditional models of media
'effects' to provide new and original insights into the dynamics
of modern election campaigns and voting behaviour.
It is essential reading for all researchers,
practitioners and students of political communications,
elections and voting behaviour, in Britain and elsewhere.
"Did the Sun
win the 1997 election for Labour, this making a slightly queasy
indebtedness to Rupert Murdoch a small and necessary price to
pay for government? Or would Labour have won without the tabloid
support? Academics and politicians tend to see the question of
the impact of the media on political results in starkly
different terms. On the one hand academics have a great deal of
proof that voting decisions happen in complex, variable and long
term frameworks. On the other hand, politicians tend to believe
that elections do, really, matter. That you can win election
campaigns and that you can lose them too, and that the media are
increasingly central to what happens. This excellent study is
invaluable because it puts a more fluid political reality back
into an imaginative empirical study of the relationship between
campaigning and results.
Distinguishing between the 'long' (over a
year) and the 'short' (the campaign) elections the book
overturns much conventional thinking about 1997. Over the long
campaign, Labour actually lost support, while the Liberal
Democrats gained it (but Labour was stunningly successful in
attracting ex-Tory votes). Despite the best frantic efforts of
Millbank the election machine failed to control media news
agendas about things they did not care about - like Europe.
Central to the book's findings, however, is a
result which is really a recommendation. The study argues that
neither the amount of media attention, nor the media agenda
balance have much independent effect on voters, but that what
they call the 'direction' of coverage does. The direction of
coverage - that is to say whether a party is depicted in a
favourable or an unfavourable light in the media - has a
powerful impact on elections. There is a suggestion that this is
what needs regulation. Well, yes. Except that in part that is
what the media are there to do, not merely reflect but judge.
This is an interesting book that authoritatively sets off on a
convincing and intriguing new agenda. But no wonder Millbank
tried so hard." Jean Seaton, University of Westminster,
Political Studies 48(4): September 2000. Readership:
undergraduate, graduate. Rating *****
"On Message is the most innovative and
comprehensive study of the effects of communications on British
voting. It is the definitive guide to the new trends in campaign
voting and the media."
Dennis Kavanagh, University of Liverpool
"Much has been written about the way parties
and politicians run election campaigns - but far less on how
voters respond to them. Now, for the first time, On Message lays
bare the connections between parties, media and the public.
Using original and imaginative research, Pippa Norris and her
team have produced that rarity: a book that tells us something
genuinely new and important about the nature of Britain's
politics." Peter Kellner,
"At last, a genuinely multi-method study of
political campaigning. On Message will be a lasting contribution
to 'media-effects' research." Shanto Iyengar, Stanford
"This crisply-written book about Britain's
1997 General Election Campaign challenges a host of conventional
beliefs about the significance of the communication strategies
of the political parties, about the limited agenda-setting role
of the mass media, and about the impact of the campaign on the
political views of British voters. The study benefits from the
collective insights of a team of exceptionally experienced
researchers. Their sophisticated multi-method research design
and apt comparisons capture the dynamic interplay among various
political actors and settings with unusual clarity. Given the
careful delineation of theoretical bases and judgmental
criteria, this study is destined to become a model for
excellence in campaign communication research." Doris Graber,
University of Illinois, Chicago
"On Message integrates the study of parties,
voters and media in a clear and original way. It is a notable
advance in the analysis of election communications. The title
could be a comment on the book itself."Colin Seymour-Ure,
University of Kent
1. Theories of Political Communications;
The Campaign Context;
Understanding Media Effects.
Part II Process:
The Party Strategy;
The News Agenda;
The Public's Reaction.
Part III Impact:
the Public's Agenda;
The Effects of Television News;
10.The Effects of Newspapers;
Conclusions: The Impact of Political Communications.
Technical Appendix and Bibliography.