How Do News Media Impact Elections?

A roundtable discussion on the media/politics nexus inside election campaigns.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


September 05, 2008 from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

Join swissnex and our esteemed panel to discuss the media/politics nexus inside election campaigns. During the course of the evening we will gain a better understanding of the interplay between systems of political mass communications, party competition and election polemics by exploring the relationship between media and politics.

This roundtable introduces the 2-day conference “Different Democracies, Same Media Power?” that will be held at swissnex San Francisco September 5-6, 2008.


6:30 pm doors open

7:00 pm roundtable discussion with panelists:
– Amy S. Mitchell – Deputy Director, Project for Excellence in Journalism, Washington DC
– Lance Bennett – Professor of Political Science, R. C. Lawrence Professor of Communication, University of Washington
– Claes de Vreese – Professor and Chair of Political Communication, University of Amsterdam
– Shanto Iyengar – Harry and Norman Chander Chair Communication, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University
– Frank Esser – Professor and Chair of International & Comparative Media Research, University of Zurich
– Moderated by Gregory Dalton, Vice-President The Commonwealth Club of California    7:00 p

8:30 pm networking, food and drinks

9:30 pm doors close


Amy S. Mitchell

Amy S. Mitchell is Deputy Director for the Project for Excellence in Journalism in Washington DC. She is involved in all aspects of the PEJ, with a primary focus is designing, managing and writing the Project’s in-depth research reports. This includes the Annual Report on the State of the News Media and other more specific studies such as coverage of various election cycles and of major news stories like the war in Iraq. Ms. Mitchell has been with the Project since its inception in 1997. Prior to this occupation, Ms. Mitchell was a congressional research associate at the American Enterprise Institute where she researched public policy and the relationship of the press, the public and government. She has authored and co-authored several works including, Thinking Clearly: Case Studies in Journalistic Decision Making. She has also won awards for PEJ’s Annual Report on the State of the News Media including two SPJ awards and the Bart Richards award. Originally from the mid-West, Ms. Mitchell now lives in Silver Spring, MD with her husband and three children.


W. Lance Bennett

W. Lance Bennett is Professor of Political Science and Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor of Communication at the University of Washington in Seattle where he directs the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement. The focus of his work is on how communication processes affect citizen identifications and engagement with politics. Specific research areas include: press-government relations; the role of news in governance; models of civic learning and online civic engagement; Web-based political information networks; digital media and global activism; and the commercialization of national news and media systems. These and other projects can be found on the Center’s website and at the Engaged Youth project.His publications include “Mediated Politics: Communication in the Future of Democracy” (Cambridge, with Robert Entman), “News: The Politics of Illusion”, 8th ed. (Longman), “When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina” (University of Chicago Press, with Steven Livingston and Regina Lawrence), and “Civic Life Online: Learning How Digital Media Can Engage Youth” (M.I.T. Press).


Claes H. de Vreese

Claes H. de Vreese is Professor and Chair of Political Communication and Scientific Director of The Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR) in the Department of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. He is also Director of the Netherlands School of Communications Research (NESCoR), the national research school in communication science recognized by the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Finally, he is Adjunct Professor of Political Science and Journalism at the University of Southern Denmark.He has published more than 40 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, including: Communication Research, Journalism Studies, Political Communication, International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Scandinavian Political Studies, European Journal of Communication, West European Politics, EU Politics, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Mass Communication & Society, and European Journal of Political Research.


Shanto Iyengar

Shanto Iyengar holds a joint appointment as the Harry and Norman Chandler Chair in Communication and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. Iyengar is also a senior fellow (by courtesy) at the Hoover Institution. Iyengar’s teaching and research addresses the role of the news media and mass communication in contemporary politics. He is the author of several books including “Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide” (W. W. Norton, 2007), “Going Negative: How Political Advertisements Shrink and Polarize the Electorate” (Free Press, 1995), “Explorations in Political Psychology” (Duke University Press, 1993), and “News That Matters: Television and American Opinion” (University of Chicago Press, 1987). Iyengar currently serves as the editor of Political Communication (Taylor and Francis), an inter-disciplinary journal sponsored by the American Political Science Association and the International Communication Association.Iyengar’s research has been published by leading journals in political science and communication. He is also a regular contributor to His scholarly awards include the Murray Edelman Career Achievement Award for research in political communication, the Philip Converse Award for the best book in the field of public opinion (for “News That Matters”), the Goldsmith Book Prize (for “Going Negative”), and the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Iowa.


Frank Esser

Frank Esser (PhD 1997) is Professor and Chair of International & Comparative Media Research in the Department of Mass Communication and Media Research at the University of Zurich. He was assistant professor of mass communication at the University of Mainz and the University of Missouri-Columbia, and visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma. His research focuses on cross-national studies of news journalism and political communication. He has published five books including “Comparing Political Communication: Theories, Cases, and Challenges” (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and sixty book chapters and journal articles. Frank is on the editorial boards of Journalism and The International Journal of Press/Politics, and serves as Vice Chair of the Journalism Division of the International Communication Association (ICA).In Zurich he is co-director of the NCCR Democracy, a National Center of Competence in Research funded by the Swiss Science Foundation, to study the impact of globalization and mediatization on Western democracies. A current project compares election campaign coverage in nine countries (U.S., Mexico, Spain, Italy, Britain, France, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland) and aims at identifying the underlying differences between political news cultures. Another project investigates the degree of media-centeredness of election campaigns in various countries.


Greg Dalton

Greg Dalton is Vice President of The Commonwealth Club of California, where he leads Climate One, a new initiative advancing global warming solutions. For six years he was Chief Operating Officer, responsible for overseeing The Club’s 35 staff members in San Francisco and San Jose. Greg expanded The Commonwealth Club’s  media reach by negotiating content deals with XM Satellite Radio, ABC 7 TV,, and Cumulus Radio (KFOG, KNBR, KSAN). He also initiated The Club’s popular podcast, which reaches more than 140,000 people in the US and abroad.Previously, Greg was a reporter and editor for several national and international news organizations in the United States, China and Canada. As International Editor at the Industry Standard magazine, he managed the Standard’s news bureaus in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Buenos Aires and helped establish local-language editions in Brazil, China, Poland and six other countries. In the mid- nineties he was an editor on the international desk at the Associated Press headquarters in New York. Prior to that assignment he was a correspondent for the South China Morning Post in Beijing and Vancouver, Canada.Greg holds a B.A. in politics from Occidental College and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He speaks Mandarin and “kitchen Cantonese.”


Photo: Myleen Hollero