politics; celebrities; late-night comedy; mass media; college students; elections
Mass media is crucial in forming and reflecting opinion in society. Newspaper, television, and the internet all play a critical role in the daily lives of Americans; disseminating information that shapes views of life, culture, and politics. It seems like all forms of media communication, either subliminally or blatantly, reflect the political climate of the day. The news media flood American homes with images, audio, and commentary on political happenings. My questions are as follows: How much basic political knowledge does an average college student possess? Where does the average college student receive his or her political knowledge? Does celebrity endorsement of a political ideology influence college students? If so, then to what extent? My goal is to survey approximately 400 random URI undergraduate students. The survey will ask questions relating to three areas. The first is a political knowledge index- basic information about politics. I want to have a general idea of the student’s depth of basic political fact, i.e., name the Vice President of the United States, how many Senators represent Rhode Island? The second will explore where the student gets political information, i.e., how often do you watch network news broadcasts? If so, which ones?” The third section will explore celebrity-endorsed politics. I will write statements said by celebrities or included in musical lyrics. I will then ask whether the student agrees with the statement, to what extent. I will also ask if the student regularly listens to the artist or watches the celebrity’s television programs. In order to better understand their own ideologies, I will also include a brief section on their political behaviors: Did they vote in the last election? If so, for whom did they vote? Do they affiliate with a political party? The results of the survey will be discussed and compared to past research done in this field.