Military Review English Edition November-December 2015 - Page 25

COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES In the third example, the power of vertical media is, in effect, being replaced by a rising, alternative community agenda. This has implications for social organizations from communities to entire nations. If the correlational agreement between vertical media and audiences declines, then leadership c onfronts challenges in maintaining influence. Otherwise, as figure 4 indicates, the organizational values may be in a potentially transitional drift (as with a correlation of .50). Figure 4 shows a range of hypothetical correlations from 1.00 to 0. (Correlations can also be negative—not considered here.) Figure 4 also illustrates the evolution of a social system from dominant vertical media agendas to dominant horizontal media agendas. Leaders can use this method to estimate where their own organizations fit in the dynamics of agendamelding and civic balance. Surveys might show a high correlation between leaders’ and subordinates’ views about the importance of organizational issues and goals (similar to the first example in figure 4). However, if the correlations drop sharply from generals to field grade officers and senior enlisted, and then to junior officers and enlisted, that might indicate that efforts to influence subordinates are not effective. In this case, everyone would be in the Army but not everyone would, in a sense, be living in the same agenda community—a significant difference with potentially far-reaching repercussions for all levels of command. The United States and Iran: Examples of Agenda Community Attraction The ACA formula illustrates how audiences meld vertical and horizontal agendas differently and how social systems evolve as a result. Leaders seeking to influence their organizations need to understand how people use media differently, not just by age but also by political beliefs and cultural identity. Otherwise, leaders might risk far more than failing to influence. This section illustrates the operation of the ACA formula first, by analyzing three U.S. presidential elections. Then, it describes a historical case study from Iran about a leader who lost power when he disregarded how the people he sought to influence shared information and melded their own views. Studies of U.S. voters. In the original agenda-setting study in Chapel Hill, during the 1968 presidential MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2015 election between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon, university professors and researchers Maxwell E. McCombs and Donald L. Shaw found a correlation between local media and voters in the ranking of important issues of .97.15 Shaw and others replicated the Chapel Hill study forty years later in the campaign season leading up to the 2008 presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain. A content analysis of local media and personal interviews was conducted with a stratified sample of seventy Chapel Hill voters to determine the correlation between issues deemed important by the media and by voters. The correlational agreement stood at .87. The lead author of this study, with Chris Vargo of the University of Alabama and other scholars, ran another test in a 2012 presidential election study of social media using Twitter. They used a large sample of 13,116,850 tweets to calculate the correlations between the issues tweeted by vertical media (expressing the messages of traditional, top-down news media), horizontal media (expressing the collective messages of social media communities), and issues tweeted by individuals (expressing individuals’ personal perspectives). The correlation for Twitter users with vertical media tweets in the week preceding the election stood at .98. Using the ACA formula, figure 5 shows the relative contribution of traditional media sources, collective social media community sources, and personal, individual views across these three elections.16 Traditional media remained powerful even with the rise of social media. However, Democratic, Republican, and independent voters used traditional and social media differently in 2008, as did Democrats and Republicans in 2012. (The researchers did not study independent voters in 2012 and did not study social media in 1968.) This is depicted in figure 6.17 The broad conclusion is that traditional media remain powerful, but their audiences are not passive; voters meld agenda communities from traditional and social media sources that fit their personal preferences. Additionally, most likely, everyone mixes traditional and social media messages in making important decisions—soldiers as well as voters. Study in Agenda Setting from Iran. In the 1970s, the Iranian mass media—newspapers, magazines, radio, 23