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McNinch on Media Messages

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Media Messages
by Ron McNinch, University of Guam

Every election we see various endorsement attempts by an assortment of organizations. To paraphrase a saying from Texas Hold'em Poker, when political action organizations want their results or conclusions discussed, "make'em pay." If political candidates need to buy ads to get their messages across, those opposing candidates should be made to pay too.

The reason is simple, if the media treats political organization propaganda as news, it needs to allow for a balancing effect. While any group can  create a common message or theme, these messages often unravel in the face of basic facts.

The reason is generally based on ideology or the "ideas" used to support a given message. If the facts do not support the message, this idea gap is used to alter the community view on a given topic.

Here are a few examples of this idea gap:

  • US citizenship is a dominant community value here on Guam. Very few US citizens on Guam (less than 10%)  would give up their citizenship for any other citizenship. Yet, the message often touted outside of Guam is that something other than US citizenship is desired. This is simply not true.
  • For the last seven years, public opinion on the military buildup has been studied. There is strong public support of the military buildup on Guam and in general, there is a very positive view of the US military by citizens on Guam. About three quarters of the voting public have family members in the military, past and present, and most citizens view the military here in the same ways as we view tourism. But we often don't hear this point raised. Often politicians are cornered by groups into an us/them scenario that does not fit reality. The military buildup is a complex set of policies.
  • The public is pragmatic about the military buildup. Improving communications was suggested over five years ago as a good way the military and local leaders can address concerns.
  • Having a meaningful and balanced communication process is important.
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