This website has previously been recommended by EDUTOPIA; School Library Monthly; The Living Room Candidate, INFOHIO, “Blueprint for Democracy” and  “Cable in The Classroom” magazine.

The Role of Media in Politics/Elections:
Helping Students Understand Media’s Influence

Frank Baker, Media Educator ©2007-2019


Increasingly today, getting elected means skillful use of the media by the candidates to get their message across. Politicians now employ experts in social media, marketing, advertising and TV to convey their messages to voters, sometimes spending millions of dollars in the process.

It is critically important that students, our future voters and leaders, learn to understand the role and influence of media in the political process. (Do your students understand, for example, what constitutes Dark Money, what Super PACS are, or  Campaign Finance Reform efforts?)

To that end, many state standards for Social Studies and Citizenship include the need for students to understand how media influences politics and decision making.

This website is devoted primarily to the 30-second campaign “spot” so common in American elections. The site is designed to provide teachers with the tools they need to introduce political campaign advertising to their students. Another goal is to assist teachers who want to help their students become aware of the unique techniques of persuasion used in these ads. To start, click the Background/Introduction/Standards link in the left hand column.

NEW: 2021-2022 Midterms Forecast to Set A Record for Ad Dollars
Voters in ten battleground states were more influenced by TV ads than any other media platform
Profile of the Lincoln Project’s Anti-Trump Ads
The Presidents Vs The Press (book)
Analyzing Campaign Ads for Election 2020
Dark Money explained 
How much does that ad cost on my local TV station?
DOWNLOAD:  Political Ad Analysis Worksheet
DOWNLOAD:   Debate Watchers Analysis Worksheet
Tracking Every Presidential Candidate’s TV Ad Buys
Citizens United’s 10 Year Anniversary
These are the ads Cambridge Analytica Used to Target Voters
Top Ad Spenders on Facebook
Fact Checkers Guide to Campaign Ads (WaPo)
On TV: American Swamp: Dark Money (MSNBC)
How to read political images of candidates
Study Shows Visual Framing By Media In Debates Affects Public Perception
Lesson Plan: What Makes A Good Campaign Ad? (CSPAN)
Where to Locate Past Presidential Commercials

Ideas/Readings/Activities for Teaching The Election
Analyzing 50 Years of American Political Advertising
View Smart To Vote Smart: Analyzing TVs Role in Events & Advertising
How To Watch & Analyze The Fall Presidential Debates
How A Political Ad Gets Made
Decoding The Ads: Emotions That Drive Voter Decisions
NEW: History of Political Advertising (infographic)
Track TV Ads in The 2016 Presidential Campaign
Everything You Need to Know About Political Advertising
Revised:  Who’s Winning The Money Race                      
Broadcasters Want Campaigns to Buy More Ads
Are Instagram Attacks Ads The Future of Politics?

Recommended Book for Middle & High Schools:
Political Campaigns & Political Advertising: A Media Literacy Guide
Bringing media literacy tools to bear on political campaign coverage and political advertising just as the Internet explodes as a political force, this book will help students and older citizens negotiate the age of political spin. Amazon reviewer: “This is an excellent, easy-to-understand, well-illustrated book on political communications.”


This comic from Non Sequitur is used here for educational purposes.
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