Publication details

To Tell the Truth : Ad Watch Coverage, Ad Tone, and the Accuracy of Political Advertising

Investor logo

MEIRICK Patrick C. NISBETT Gwendelyn S. HARVELL-BOWMAN Lindsey A. HARRISON Kylie J. JEFFERSON Matthew D. KIM Tae-Sik PFAU Michael W.

Year of publication 2018
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Political Communication
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Field Mass media, audiovision
Keywords Political advertising; Negative advertising; Ad watches; Political journalism; Fact checking
Attached files
Description This study examined the relationships among newspaper ad watch coverage, ad tone, and the accuracy of political advertising. A sample of political advertisements (N = 160) was drawn from the Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) database and other sources for eight U.S. Senate races. Two experts on each race evaluated the ads’ accuracy and their ideological portrayals of candidates, while trained coders analyzed other aspects of the ads. Ad watch coverage from these races (ad watch N = 109) also was content-analyzed. The number of ad watches overall in a race and the number that explicitly criticized ads were positively related with the level of accuracy of political ads and with a tendency to portray their favored candidates closer to their actual ideological position—but the overall number of ad watches also was positively related with a tendency for ads to portray opponents as more extreme than their positions warranted. Ad watches usually tend to scrutinize negative ads more, but ad watch coverage in this study was unrelated with ad tone and with the number of negative ads in a race. Positive ads were rated as more accurate but also more prone to exaggerate the supported candidates’ centrism compared to other ads. Normative and practical implications are discussed.
Related projects:

You are running an old browser version. We recommend updating your browser to its latest version.

More info