Videostyle in Presidential Campaigns: Style and Content of Televised Political Advertising

By Lynda Lee Kaid; Anne Johnston | Go to book overview
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7
Videostyle and Ethics in Televised Political Advertising

One of the recurring concerns about television advertising's use in political campaigns is whether or not such use creates ethical questions. Many political theorists have suggested that the use of television marketing and advertising techniques to "sell" a candidate to the electorate is itself an unethical practice. This point of view would make all attempts by a candidate to use a videostyle in an election campaign an unethical practice. While this seems like a rather extreme point of view that raises many free speech issues, it is not unreasonable to ask if particular political advertising techniques may be unethical.

Of course, any aspect of political campaigning can be judged unethical if it fails to sustain a truthful message to voters. Johannesen ( 1990) has suggested that all communication should meet basic tests of honesty and promise-keeping, politics being no exception. In politics concern about ethical messages is a direct result of the belief that the ideal democratic process requires voters to have accurate information and to make rational judgments in choosing between competing candidates ( Kelley, 1960; Regan, 1986). Franklyn Haiman ( 1958) has placed communication messages in a similar context by saying that communication should encourage the human ability to reason logically, thus creating

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