In 1996, the National Issues Convention (NIC) assembled a national sample of 459 Americans on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. This diverse group of Americans was seen and heard nationally. They spent three days in small group discussions of major public issues and participated in two live PBS telecasts moderated by Jim Lehrer where they questioned Vice President Al Gore and four contenders for the Republican presidential nomination. This experiment in democracy was an innovative step that engaged the ongoing debate about mass communication and democracy.
The Poll With a Human Face details this innovative event, the arguments and logic behind it, the experiences of the delegates and journalists involved in the NIC, and social science research analyzing the news coverage and its effects. This book is both a specific case study of the NIC and a broad scale contribution to the discipline of political communication.
Table of Contents
Contents: Preface. Part I: The National Issues Convention. J.S. Fishkin, R.C. Luskin, Bringing Deliberation to the Democratic Dialogue. T.W. Smith, The Delegates' Experience. R. Hart, S. Jarvis, We the People: The Contours of Lay Political Discourse. Part II: The News Media. D.R. Boldt, Through the Eyes of a True Believer. D.B. Merritt, A (Largely Missed) Learning Opportunity. A. Reynolds, Local Television Coverage of the NIC. D.S. Evatt, Prologue to Diverging Patterns of Election Year Coverage. K.A. Rasinski, N.M. Bradburn, D. Lauen, Effects of NIC Media Coverage Among the Public. Part III: The Larger Setting. R.P. Daves, Deliberative Polling--Fitting the Tool to the Job. S. Herbst, The Cultivation of Conversation. M. McCombs, A. Reynolds, Enhancing Grassroots Democracy. Appendices: Interviewer-Administered Questionnaire Self-Administered Questionnaire: National Opinion Research Center. The National Issues Convention Schedule.
"By assembling this broad, stimulating collection--including studies of how delegates were recruited and how public journalism advocates covered the NIC and the early presidential campaign--McCombs and Reynolds have provided us with the most thorough examination to date of a remarkable event."
—Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly