Conclusion: The Media Presidency

  • Stephen Ponder


Between 1897 and 1933, seven presidents experimented with managing the press to appeal for popular support through “new media” created by advances in communications technologies and the explosive growth of commercial newspapers and magazines. The “old media” of sponsored publications were in decline in the late nineteenth century, along with the political parties that had supported them. Advertising-supported newspapers, popular magazines, and, by the 1920s, radio offered new opportunities for presidential leadership. These new forms of mass communication were capable of transmitting the president’s appeals to increasingly larger audiences of citizens. News stories, images, and broadcasts could project the appearance of presidential authority to the farthest corners of the country. The prominence of these messages in the press could leave an impression of popular support in an era before systematic measurement of public opinion.


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  1. 2.
    Richard W. Steele, Propaganda in an Open Society: The Roosevelt Administration and the Media, 1933–41 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), 1–51.Google Scholar

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© Stephen Ponder 1998

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  • Stephen Ponder

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