Political and Media Communication Project Directions

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Political and Media Communication Project
Directions: Begin by reading the Political and Media Communication Reading. You will use this information in your analysis of some posters created by the government. Next print 3 copies of the Poster Analysis worksheet (see last page of this document). You will then choose 3 out of the 7 posters from the links provided. Analyze each of the 3 posters you choose and answer #’s 1-11 on each worksheet.
This project is due on Wednesday, November 5th and Thursday, November 6th No late work accepted!

Political and Media Communication Reading
When reading the news, looking at candidate websites or viewing election information, it is important to consider how persuasion techniques might be used to influence the viewer. Bias, symbolism, and propaganda are common techniques used to persuade people to think or feel a certain way.
Bias is a preference, opinion or attitude that favors one way of thinking or feeling over another. Bias affects how people see events and people around them. Many biases come from an individual’s personal experiences or lack of experiences.
Bias in media or political communication can occur in various ways. A journalist or politician can choose to select or omit, leave out, certain information in order to persuade the reader to favor one opinion over another. Bias also occurs through the placement of information. If information is featured in large or bold type or in very small type, the author is sending a message about how the information should be viewed. This technique is apparent through headlines and titles on websites. Another way that bias appears is through word choice and tone. If a news story, advertisement or campaign pamphlet contains mainly positive or mainly negative words about a subject, this will persuade the audience to think or feel a certain way. Finally, bias occurs in the way data and statistics are used. For example, during a campaign speech a candidate may share only positive data about their accomplishments rather than the negative in order to convey positive messages to the reader.
Symbolism is the technique of using images or pictures to convey a certain message. Symbols are commonly used in political communication, especially during campaigns. Symbols are often used to associate candidates with images that represent the United States. Common symbols used in political campaigns are the colors red, white, and blue, stars and stripes, the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty Bell. Symbols are also used in political cartoons to convey positive and negative images.
Examples of common symbols:


Words or Ideas Represented by the Symbol

Uncle Sam, bald eagle, American flag, Capitol building, White House

U.S. government

red, white, blue, stars and stripes

American flag, patriotism

Statue of Liberty, torch, Liberty Bell

freedom and democracy

U.S. Supreme Court building, scales



Democratic Party


Republican Party

dove, olive branch, peace sign


Propaganda is another method used in media and political communication to persuade the reader to think or feel a certain way. Propaganda is the method of spreading ideas, information or rumors for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person. Propaganda is similar to bias and symbolism in that they are all used to persuade; however propaganda uses more extreme measures to communicate a certain message. Propaganda relies on appealing to the viewer’s emotion rather than reason to convey a message.
There are seven commonly used types of propaganda: card stacking, testimonial, glittering generalities, transfer, plain folks, bandwagon, and name calling.

  • Card stacking is the strategy of showing a product or person’s best features and leaving out information about any negative features or potential problems.

  • In a testimonial a celebrity or well-known person speaks on behalf of a product or person as an endorsement. In a testimonial a celebrity’s message is that if they believe in a candidate, everyone else should too.

  • When an advertisement or political campaign uses short phrases or few words to appeal to particular emotions, the technique of glittering generalities is being used. Words or phrases such as love of country, home, peace, hope, freedom and honor are used to persuade the viewer to have a positive emotional reaction to the image being described by the word.

  • The strategy of transfer is apparent when symbols are used to convey a message. Political advertisements, websites and campaign materials will often use United States symbols to persuade viewers to believe that a candidate represents America.

  • Plain folks is the strategy of communicating using ordinary language and clothes to convey to the audience that the spokesperson or candidate is just like everyone else. This strategy is often used in political campaigns. Candidates will take pictures at local restaurants and at ballparks to convey the message that they are an ordinary person, just like you.

  • In bandwagon, an attempt is made to make the viewer feel like everyone is using a product or voting for a particular candidate, so they should too. The viewer should “join the crowd” and not be left out.

  • Name calling is used to send a negative message about an opposing product or candidate. This technique connects a person or idea to a negative word and convinces the viewer to believe the message without examining the evidence.

Sources: Bias Information - http://indykids.net/main/teachers/classroom_workshops/ and http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/pdfs/lesson-plan/Lesson_Bias_News_Sources.pdf

Symbolism - http://arch.k12.ar.us/apush/files/Assignments/Political%20Cartoon%20symbols.pdf

Propaganda - http://www.hsj.org/modules/lesson_plans/detail.cfm?LessonPlanId=335 and http://mason.gmu.edu/~amcdonal/Propaganda%20Techniques.html

Links to government posters
1. “Be Patriotic sign your country’s pledge to save the food” http://research.archives.gov/description/512497
2. “We’re All in the Army Now” http://research.archives.gov/description/533998
3. Bonds or Bondage. Everybody Every Pay day. 10 Percent. http://research.archives.gov/description/534069
4. Abraham Lincoln http://research.archives.gov/description/534342
5. Be a Regular Fellow http://research.archives.gov/description/534107
6. Keep Old Glory Forever Free, Buy More Bonds for Victory http://research.archives.gov/description/534098
7. Join the Parade of Winners http://research.archives.gov/description/534238

9. What propaganda technique(s) is being used in the poster?

10. What is the intended emotion this poster is trying to convey?

11. How might this poster impact public opinion during the time this poster was released?
description: macintosh hd:users:vmcvey:desktop:poster_analysis_worksheet.pdf

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