May 25, 2003
an Uncertain World
How Politicians Reduce Information Costs!
By Howard Hobbs Ph.D., Editor & Publisher
FRESNO -- Advertising is the
life blood of newspapers and politicians. Newspaper, radio spots
and print ads cost a lot of money. Rational citizens seeking public
office these days, are under great pressure to increase the quality
of political rhetoric and to cut down the quantity of scarce money
resources for communicating needed political information to voters.
One model, which appears to form the base
of most of local Fresno political campaign practice, is the strategic
use of Fresno's free information stream. Fresno's free information
stream systematically provides local voters with more politically
useful information than it provides others.
Certain specialists in the division of labor
act automatically to reduce data costs drastically and to focus
citizens' attention on the areas most relevant to their political
decision?making. Even when the returns from making correct decisions
are infinite, rational men sometimes delegate part or all of their
political decision?making to others. However, without this device,
voters of in Fresno might be less well informed about politics.
In any city, however, voters will never
be equally well?informed politically, no matter how equal they are
in all other respects. The concept of democracy based on an electorate
of equally well informed citizens presupposes that all men are equally
well informed or equally misinformed.
In spite of its inadequacies, from advertising
come virtually all the revenues needed to operate Mr. Autry's political
campaign and pay the costs of printing and distributing newspapers.
The newspaper publisher's real customer is not the Fresno news reader,
but the advertiser who wishes to bring his political ideological
wares to the attention of the greater Fresno voting electorate.
The only commodity the newspaper publisher
has to sell is space in the daily news edition. Politicians with
a non-existent or limited advertising budget easily obtain the free
use of the facilities of a local or regional newspaper for unlimited
periods of time. The local politician uses the free space provided
by the news media to bring his partisan message to the attention
of the newspaper's readership.
Often as election day approaches, local
politicians buy sufficient space to present an entire campaign statement
with endorsements buy local notables. Usually, he buys only enough
pace in the newspaper and on local air time on radio time for last
minute announcements 60 seconds or less in length.
A radio station's time, however, is valueless to candidates unless
the station has listeners. So the station presents programs to attract
a targeted audience. For practical purposes it might be said that
the broadcaster is engaged in two separate enterprises: (1) providing
a free program service for the benefit of the nonpaying public,
and (2) selling time in his schedule to political candidates and
other advertisers to pay for this free service.
Some of the political advertisers who buy
time on local stations are small, with a political base of operations
limited to a single community, say the City of Fresno on the basis
of the size of the Fresno City area to be reached and the manner
in which advertising space and time are donated or purchased. The
type of newspaper advertising we are seeing locally in the Fresno
area is local newspaper, television and radio spots.
Spot announcements come in a variety of
shapes and sizes. On radio, those for local advertisers are usually
live announcement read by a station announcer. National spot advertisers
usually provide their spot announcements to stations on audio tape.
On television stations, spots for local
advertisers may be presented live with the announcer on camera or
with the announcer unseen and with slides or pictures on the screen,
but most commonly local talent on videotape for easy replay records
them during the run of the spot.
Some of the more important local advertisers
have the commercial messages produced on film or tape by advertising
agencies in larger cities. Few television markets, of course, lack
one or more advertisers who feel they can do as good a selling job
as local talent and insist on appearing in their own commercials,
sometimes doing the entire selling job.
by The Fresno Republican Newspaper.
All rights reserved.