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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the development, varieties, objectives, and effectiveness of presidential communication. The rate of presidential communication has increased over the twentieth century, and now constitutes a key feature of the modern presidential leadership style. Regarding the public, presidential communication efforts aim to steer the public agenda, boost public support for the president, and alter public preferences for public policy, yet presidents appear to be able only to affect the public agenda, which raises the question ‘why do presidents “go public” so often to such little effect?’. Very little research has looked at communication efforts towards the news media. Changes in the structure of the news media, from the broadcast-dominated system of the 1960s–1980s to the less concentrated structure of the current cable and Internet age, may have profound implications for presidential leadership through communication. Because of these changes, many news organizations have become less objective, becoming either more ideologically distinct or suffused with entertainment values in their news reporting. Further, these media changes have led to smaller audiences for presidential news, with presidential supporters compromising the bulk of the remaining audience, which seriously limits presidential opportunities to reach and influence public opinion. The Internet and social media offer new avenues to reach the public, yet it is unclear that these new media offer the president effect public leadership channels.

Keywords: presidential leadership, news media, public opinion, policy agenda, presidential communication

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