Presidential Campaign Blogs
Sung Wook Hwang*
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Digital Media, Myongji University William L. Benoit**
Professor, Dept. of Communication, University of Missouri-Columbia
This study examined the functions and topics on the 2007 South Korean presidential campaign blogs. The main findings were as follows: the candidates discussed acclaims most often, followed by attacks and defenses (H1); the candidates discussed more policy than character (H2); the incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young acclaimed more and attacked less than the challenger Lee Myung Bak in the discussion of past deeds (H3); the candidates used more acclaims than attacks for general goals (H4) and ideals (H5). The results indicated the theoretical extension to the new online political campaign tool during the South Korean presidential campaign. Regarding the supportive findings and some exceptional findings, more specific theoretical and practical implications were discussed.
Key words: Functional theory, blogs, presidential campaign, South Korea, content analysis.
* email@example.com (제1저자 및 교신저자) ** BenoitW@missouri.edu
Research on political advertising suggests that the functions can have consequences for voters. First, Reinemann and Maurer (2005) demonstrate that acclaims and attacks affect debate watchers differently. Furthermore, although the jury is still out (see, e.g., Finkel & Geer, 1998), some scholars have argued that political attacks in TV spots can reduce voter turnout in elections (Ansolabehere & Iyengar, 1995). Furthermore, Benoit (2003) found that American political candidates who stress policy more, and character less than opponents in their campaign messages are more likely to win elections. So, there are reasons to believe that functions and topics of political campaign messages merit scholarly attention.
The Functional Theory of Political Campaign Discourse (Benoit, 2007) has illuminated the nature of political discourse in diverse campaign media outlets: U.S. presidential TV spots and primary campaign TV spots (Benoit, 1999a); U.S. presi-dential debate (Benoit & Wells, 1996); U.S. presipresi-dential nomi-nating acceptance addresses (Benoit, 1999b); debates in U.S. presidential primaries (Benoit et al., 2002); non U.S. presi-dential TV spots (Lee & Benoit, 2004); non U.S. presipresi-dential debates (Benoit & Klyukovski, 2006; Benoit & Sheafer, 2006; Lee & Benoit, 2005); U.S. presidential news releases (Cho & Benoit, 2006), and so on. However, we are not aware of research which has content-analyzed the presidential campaign blogosphere by fully utilizing the Functional Theory.
Indeed, blogs are growing rapidly. According to Business Week in 2005, approximately nine million blogs exist and more than 40,000 new ones are being created everyday. In other words, the medium is becoming an important mass communication tool. In that regard, many politicians and their campaign managers consider communications through their own campaign blogs in order to create open discussions with their supporters or potential voters by sharing diverse ideas (Loic, 2004).
This study applies Functional Theory to the presidential campaign blogs in order to understand the nature of the political discourse in the new domain. We examine political discourse in the recent 2007 South Korean presidential campaign blogs investigating functions and topics of utterances in blogs. This analysis will determine whether the findings of this study are consistent with those of previous functional analysis studies. In this analysis, the blogs of the two major South Korean presidential candidates, the incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young and the major challenger Lee Myung Bak, are content-analyzed.
2. Literature Review
This study examines South Korean presidential campaign blogs by applying the Functional Theory to this new campaign message form. This literature review section explains general studies about blogs, blogs and presidential campaigns, and the Functional Theory
and the main findings in the functional presidential campaign studies, respectively.
A blog (“web log”) is defined as “a web page that serves as a publicly accessible personal journal for an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs often reflect the personality of the author (Webopedia, 2004).” A blog is frequently updated with posts regarding a topic in reverse chronological order (Blood, 2002). Aiming to investigate the general characteristics of blogs, Herring et al. (2005) content analyzed 203 blogs through random sampling. According to their study, the most frequent blog author was a single individual (90.8%). Approximately 70% of the blogs were personal journals and only 12.6% of the sampled blogs belonged to filter blogs. The interval between the most recent and the second most recent posting was about five days. In addition to these features, the study analyzed structural characteristics, the type of blog software, and links from home pages. Based on the findings, Herring et al. (2005) argued that many communication scholars are interested in journalistic filter blogs, while they overlook blog communication as a tool of individual self-expression. Further, the study concluded that blogs are put in the middle of the continuum of general home pages and text-only interactive newsgroups.
the credibility of blogs compared with other media. They also investigated the relationship between the reliance on blogs as well as other media and the credibility of blogs. The study overall supported the idea that blog readers consider that blogs have high credibility, and the reliance on blogs predicts strong blog credibility.
Some scholars studied what motivations lead people to the blogoshpere. The quantitative survey study of Kaye (2005) reported six blog use motivations: finding information and checking media, convenience, personal satisfaction, political examination, social examination, and expression and relationship. Meanwhile, Nardi et al. (2004) qualitatively interviewed 23 bloggers to examine bloggers’ motivations. Five motivation categories found in the study were: recording one’s life, posting commentary, expressing extremely emotional content, thinking while writing, and communicating through forums.
2) Blogs and Presidential Campaigns
The 2004 American presidential campaign was the first election campaign in the United States which officially uti-lized blogs as a communication tool (Williams et al., 2005). The literature on blogs and presidential campaigns show that many scholars have content-analyzed political communication practices on the candidates’ blogs during 2004 primary and general presidential election campaign from diverse
per-spectives (Bichard, 2006; Kerbel & Bloom, 2005; Sweetser, 2007; Trammell et al., 2006; Williams et al., 2005). As one of the initial empirical studies examining political communica-tion practices on a campaign blog, Kerbel and Bloom (2005) examined Howard Dean’s blog called Blog for America, during the 2004 Democratic primary campaign. They found that post-ings on the presidential campaign blog reported issues in the mainstream media such as television and political newspapers without a sarcastic viewpoint. They commented that Blog for America boosted active civic involvement by permitting people to post their free ideas in candid expressions on the public discourse, which could not be presented on the mainstream television medium. In that context, they concluded that Dean’s campaign blog demonstrated the way the Internet ac-tivates civic involvement. Further, his blog campaign inspired the other candidates to begin blogging in order to raise dona-tions, seek volunteers, and distribute campaign messages (Williams et al., 2005).
During the 2004 nominating conventions, Sweetser (2007) examined the level of blog bias by analyzing the sentences that credentialed bloggers posted. According to the Hayakawa-Lowry categorization, the sentences were classified as reports (35.1%), inferences (28.8%), judgments (23.5%), and others (12.5%). Noting the fact that reports are the most frequent category, the study concluded that blogs are not biased but still factual although blogs are likely to be more biased than the other
media channels such as news reports.
Trammell et al.(2006) examined interactivity through text and technical features in the ten candidates’ Web sites and blogs during the 2004 Democratic primary campaign. The study found that blogs overall utilized interactivity through text rather than technology. Candidates’ Web front pages of-fered hyperlinks more frequently than blogs. Both Web pages and blogs limited external links. Hyperlinks from blog posts were often connected to the candidates’ Web sites. Finally, the study suggested that candidates’ blogs showed interactive conversation in a personalized style.
Turning the spotlight to the 2004 U. S. general presidential election campaign, Williams et al.(2005) argued that campaign managers used different strategies on the candidates’ blogs and Web sites. Interestingly, Web sites mostly utilized internal links, while blogs often offered external links. Secondly, Web sites frequently showed promotional materials, whereas blogs did not often engage in fundraising. Another notable point was that Web sites and blogs discussed different issues. Unlike these differences of communication practices between the two online media, both Bush and Kerry discussed similar topics such as the Iraqi war, terrorism, the economy, and health care.
Bichard(2006) more specifically analyzed frames including topics through the framing perspective. The study compared the official blog content of the two 2004 presidential candi-dates, Bush and Kerry, in terms of time frame, space frame,
tone, topic, and framing mechanism in the postings. Incumbent candidate Bush preferred using present frames, individual / community / regional frames, positive frames, frames empha-sizing campaign events and expressions from supporters, and a photo or graphic. On the other hand, challenger Kerry’s blogs showed more past and future frames, societal and international frames, negative frames, and frames attacking the opponent or dealing with candidate ideology. That is, the ruling party’s candidate and the opposite party’s candidate emphasized dif-ferent frames on their official blogs.
The studies explained above employed diverse theoretical perspectives, but this research did not employ the functional approach to analyze political discourse on blogosphere during the presidential campaign. The following section studies the functional approach and its main findings in many media out-lets during previous U. S. and South Korean presidential campaigns.
3) Functional Theory of Political Campaign Discourse The Functional Theory of political campaign discourse (e.g., Benoit, 1999a, 2007; Benoit, Blaney, & Pier, 1998; Benoit et al., 2002, 2003) regards voting as a comparative act. Because voters compare candidates, candidates need to differentiate themselves from their opponents (and do so by appearing preferable to, not only different from, other candidates). Benoit
insisted that political campaign messages are the means by which candidates for elective office differentiate themselves from their opponents. Further, campaign messages have three options (functions) which can help the candidates appear preferable to the opponents: acclaims (positive utterances about candidate themselves), attacks (negative utterances about the candidates’ opponents), and defenses (refutations of attacks from opponents). Benoit explained that these functions work together much like the process of cost-benefit analysis: acclaims can increase a candidate’s benefits; attacks can increase opponent’s cost; and defenses can reduce a candidate’s perceived costs (of course, campaign utterences, whatever the function, are not necessarily persuasive, nor are utterances equally effective with all voters). However, he cautions that voters do not mathematically calculate costs and benefits. The key point is that the political messages with the three functions can affect voters’ attitude toward the candidate by arguing for the superiority of one candidate over an opponent or opponents.
Functional Theory also classifies the topics of campaign messages into the two categories: policy (issues), governmental action and problems amenable to governmental action, and character (image), personality and other characteristics of the candidate. The theory further divided these two topics: policy into past deeds, future plans, and general goals; and character into personal qualities, leadership abilities, and ideals (see the Appendix).
from 1952 to 1996, U.S. presidential election TV spots used acclaims most often, an average of 60%. Attacks were observed at 39%, while defense was only used in only 1% of the themes in these advertisements (Benoit, 1999a). Overall, U.S. presidential election candidates preferred praising themselves to degrading the opponent’s weakness in presidential campaign TV spots. Benoit (1999a) argues that acclaims do not have any risks but attacks run the risk of backlash from voters who often report that they dislike mudslinging. Also, he explains why defenses are uncommon in the presidential TV spots as follows: Defenses must identify attacks to refute the accusations, but doing so could inform or remind voters of a potential weakness; candidates try to stay “on message,” emphasizing their strengths, but attacks usually occur on other topics, so making a defense can take a candidate off-message; and candidates want to look proactive and thus they do not want to appear reactive by defending. Regarding topics, presidential election TV spots included more policy relevant themes (60%) than character themes (40%) on average (Benoit, 1999a). Public opinion polls from recent U.S. elections reveal that more voters say that policy is a more important determinant of their vote for president than character (Benoit, 2003). Also, incumbent candidates also have a tendency to acclaim more and attack less than challengers (Benoit, 2007).
These discourse frequency patterns in functions (acclaims > attacks > defenses) and topics (policy > character) were observed other American political campaign messages as well, such as
televised debates and nominating convention acceptance addresses (Benoit, 2007). Cho and Benoit (2006) content-analyzed candidates’ press releases in the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign. The results of the study showed an almost even frequency of the use of acclaims (49.2%) and the use of attacks (49.3%). The use of defenses was rare (1.4%), and there was more focus on policy (68.8%) than both character (24.9%) and campaign- related topics (6.4%). Although the frequency of acclaims and attacks was surprisingly even, unlike the results of the other studies, most of the relative frequency patterns were similar with those of previous U.S. presidential campaign TV spots and debates. Perhaps candidates are more negative in press releases than other message forms hoping that the news me-dia will repeat their attacks, knowing that citizens (many of who dislike mudslinging), probably never see these press releases.
In a closely related study, Trammell (2006) examined attacks in the postings of the 2004 U.S. presidential candidates’ blogs. However, the study did not fully utilize the Functional Theory, only analyzing attack dimensions. This limited the study and showed some consistent findings: the candidates emphasized more issues (i.e., policy) than images (i.e., character); and the challenger Kerry attacked more than the incumbent Bush.
Scholars have also analyzed South Korean presidential campaign discourses in TV spots (Lee & Benoit, 2004) and debates (Kim & Chun, 2004, 2006; Kim & Kim, 2008; Kim, Kim, & Lee, 2008;
Lee & Benoit, 2005; Song, 2004). Like U.S. candidates, South Korean candidates in TV spots and debates acclaimed the most frequently, followed by attacks and defenses. Particularly, these patterns were consistently observed in the debates for three South Korean presidential campaigns: the 15th presidential
campaign in 1997 (Kim & Chun, 2006), the 16th presidential
campaign in 2002 (Kim & Chun, 2004), and the 17th presidential
campaign in 2007 (Kim, Kim, & Lee, 2008). Assuming the same patterns will occur in the 2007 Korean presidential campaign blogs, the following hypothesis is proposed:
H1: South Korean presidential candidates will depend more on acclaims than attacks, and least on defenses in their blogs.
Although the 2002 South Korean presidential candidates discussed policy and character at similar frequency rates in TV spots (Lee & Benoit, 2004), South Korean debates (like debates in the U.S. and other countries; Benoit, 2007; Benoit & Klyukovski, 2006; Benoit & Sheafter, 2006) discussed policy more than than character in debates (Kim & Chun, 2004, 2006; Kim, Kim, & Lee, 2008; Lee & Benoit, 2005). We predict that policy will be more actively discussed than character:
H2: South Korean presidential candidates will discuss policy more than character in their blogs.
Regarding the influence of the incumbency, the literature shows mixed results in analyses of South Korean campaign messages. In the 2002 presidential TV spots (Lee & Benoit, 2004) and the 2007 presidential debates (Kim, Kim, & Lee, 2008),
the incumbent-party candidate acclaimed more and attacked less than the challengers. But in the 1997 presidential campaign debates (Kim & Chun, 2006), the incumbent-party candidate Leehoichang less acclaimed than his challengers, Kim Dae Jung and Lee In Jae. Also, there was no significant difference in the functions of incumbents and challengers in the 2002 presidential debates (Lee & Benoit, 2005). It seems likely that the influence of incumbency is weaker in South Korea than in some other countries for two reasons: (1) South Korean presidents are limited to a single term and (2) there is no Vice President in South Korea (who could run on the administration’s record). So, a candidate can represent the incumbent party in South Korea, but cannot truly be said to be an incumbent. Accordingly, we ask a research question here:
RQ1: Does the incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young use more acclaims and fewer attacks than the challenger Lee Myung Bak?
In research on the 2002 South Korean presidential cam-paign investigating the use of functions of past deeds, the in-cumbent party candidate acclaimed more and attacked less than challengers when they discussed past deeds in both TV spots (Lee & Benoit, 2004) and debates (Lee & Benoit, 2005). Although both incumbents and challengers discuss the records of both candidates, both incumbents and challengers tend to discuss the incumbent party’s record more than they discuss the challenger’s record. Although there is no real incumbency
in the South Korean presidential campaign context, as just discussed, the incumbent party candidate can still actively praise past deeds of the incumbent president in the same party to pursue the halo effect. On the other hand, challengers can actively attack past deeds of the incumbent president in the ruling party. That is, the incumbent president’s official record is a ground of acclaims for the incumbent party candidate and grounds for attacks from challengers. In that logic, the following hypothesis is developed:
H3: The incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young will acclaim more and attack less when discussing past deeds than the challenger Lee Myung Bak.
In debates, the 2002 South Korean presidential candidates use more acclaims than attacks when they discussed general goals and ideals (Lee & Benoit, 2005), which was consistent with the findings in the Functional analysis of U.S. presidential debates (Benoit, 2007). Although statistical analyses were not reported in the study of South Korean TV spots from 2002, post-hoc analysis reveals that general goals were used significantly more often as the basis for acclaims than attacks; ideals were used more often to acclaim and attack but the n of ideals was too small in 2002 TV spots to reach significance. Thus, this study proposes the following hypotheses:
H4: South Korean presidential candidates will discuss general goals more often to acclaim than to attack.
often to acclaim than to attack.
In addition to these hypotheses, this study proposes three research questions:
RQ2: What are the proportions of the three forms of policy in South Korean presidential campaign blogs?
RQ3: What are the proportions of the three forms of character in South Korean presidential campaign blogs?
RQ4: What specific policy issues will be emphasized on the candidates’ blogs?
This study content-analyzed the postings on the two major South Korean presidential candidate blogs during the official campaign period (from November 27th to December 18th) before
the 2007 South Korean presidential election, December 19th of
2007. In total, 43 postings were posted for the period (20 postings on Jung Dong Young’s blog and 23 postings on Lee Myung Bak’s blog). Each posting was unitized into themes. According to Benoit (1999a), themes showing “a coherent idea” (p.20) could be different in terms of their length such as a phrase or a couple of sentences. In total, 981 themes were analyzed: 493 themes for Jung Dong Young and 488 themes for Lee Myung Bak.
The first coding category was function (acclaims, attacks, or defenses). The operational definitions are as follows (Benoit, 1999a, p. 20):
• Themes that portrayed the sponsoring candidate or the candidate’s political party in a favorable light were acclaims. • Themes that portrayed the opposing candidate or opposing
candidate’s political party in an unfavorable light were attacks.
• Themes that explicitly responded to a prior attack on the candidate or the candidate’s political party were defenses. Second, themes were coded in terms of topic which was dichotomized into policy and character as follows (Benoit, 1999a, p. 21):
• Utterances that concern governmental action (past, current, or future) and problems amenable to governmental action were considered policy themes.
• Utterances that address characteristics, traits, abilities, or attributes of the candidates (or their parties) were considered character themes.
Finally, policy was classified into past deeds, future plans, or general goals. Also, character was categorized into personal qual-ity, leadership abilqual-ity, or ideals (see the Appendix). Specific policy issues were initially labeled as economy, the relationship with North Korea, foreign policy with the other countries, healthcare,
defense, energy/environment, education, political reform, cul-ture, and others. Because some cell sizes in each candidate’s ed-ucation, political reform, and culture were lower than 5, this study merged the three categories into the category of others for satisfying the chi-square test assumption: adequate cell sizes are 5 or more and no cells with zero frequencies (Garson, 2008).
Using Cohen’s (1960) kappa, the authors analyzed 10% of the total posting scripts with a bilingual Korean graduate student. Reliability was .90 for functions, .87 for topics, .83 for form of policy, .77 for form of character, and .76 for specific policy issues. These results indicated substantial agreement (0.61-0.80) or in part almost perfect agreement (larger than 0.80) see Landis & Koch, 1977.
Since this study dealt with the frequency data, cross tabulation and χ2 tests were mainly used for statistical analysis in SPSS 15.0.
4. South Korean Presidential
Unlike the U.S. presidential system, South Korean presidents run for the office only for a single term of five years and the
Korean presidential system does not have a vice president, as noted earlier. For the last ten years, the South Korean ruling party of the last two presidents, Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun, has executed a favorable foreign policy called “sunshine policy” toward North Korea (Shin, 2008). During that period, the liberal incumbent party changed its party label from the Millennium Democratic Party to Uri Party to the United New Democratic Party. The major opposition party, the conservative Grand National Party, was defeated in the 1997 and 2002 presidential elections.
The incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young was a broadcasting journalist at a major broadcasting station MBC and served as South Korean Unification Minister, while the challenger Lee Myung Bak was a CEO at one of the largest South Korean corporations, Hyundai. He served as the mayor of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. Although 12 presidential candidates ran for the office during the 2007 South Korean presidential campaign, Jung Dong Young and Lee Myung Bak were the two major candidates. During the campaign, Lee Myung Bak was accused of manipulating stock prices through a company called BBK. However, Lee Myung Bak was found not guilty of the charge. Maintaining the dominant lead in various opinion polls over one year, the challenger Lee Myung Bak was elected as the president by obtaining 48.7% of the vote, whereas the incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young gained only 26.1% of the vote (National Election Commission, 2007).
H1 expected that South Korean presidential candidates would depend on acclaims, attacks, and defenses, respectively, in terms of the frequency of functional messages. As shown in <Table 1>, the total proportion of the functional themes of the two presi-dential candidates followed the prediction: acclaims (79.9%), attacks (19%), and defenses (1.1%). A one way χ2 indicated
that the differences in frequency were significant (χ2 [df＝2]＝
1004.85, p < .0001) and therefore H1 was supported. For ex-ample, Lee Myung Bak acclaimed that “I promise to create 600 thousand jobs annually and 3 million jobs for five years.” On the other hand, Jung Dong Young attacked the opponent’s morality by saying that “how is he able to open a bright fu-ture of South Korea through [his] behaviors of evading tax, avoiding military duty, manipulating stock prices, and so on?” For this matter, Lee Myung Bak used the defense strat-egy of simple denial by asserting that “I am not shameful about the BBK issue [manipulating stock prices] at all.”
<Table 1> Functions of South Korean Presidential Blogs
Acclaims Attacks Defenses Jung (I, L) 345 (70 %) 148 (30 %) 0 (0 %) Lee (C, W) 439 (90 %) 38 (7.8 %) 11 (2.2 %) Total 784 (79.9 %) 186 (19 %) 11 (1.1 %)
H2 predicted that South Korean presidential candidates would discuss more policy issues than character issues. According to <Table 2>, the candidates focused overall on policy (69.4%) rather than character (30.6%). The statistical difference was significant (χ2 [df＝1]＝147.97, p < .0001). Thus, H2 was supported.
Specifically, Jung Dong Young showed slightly more attention to policy (54.2%) than to character (45.8%), whereas the winner Lee Myung Bak discussed overwhelmingly more policy (84.8%) than character (15.2%). For example, Lee Myung Bak insisted that “I will utilize Internet Technology as a core momentum for 7% economic growth.” This is a policy utterance regarding the economy. On the other hand, Jung Dong Young pointed to the opponent’s character by saying that “a candidate who is involved with various scandals and always lies is leading the race in spite of the fatal weaknesses.”
<Table 2> Topics of South Korean Presidential Blogs
Jung (I, L) 267 (54.2 %) 226 (45.8 %) Lee (C, W) 414 (84.8 %) 74 (15.2 %) Total 681 (69.4 %) 300 (30.6 %)
The first research question investigated possible differences in functions resulting from the incumbency effect. In these texts, the incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young acclaimed
less (70% to 90%) and attacked more (30% to 7.8%) than the challenger Lee Myung Bak (see <Table 1>). The difference was significant (χ2 [df＝2]＝87.30, p < .0001).
The third hypothesis did anticipate some incumbency effect: H3, predicted that the incumbent party candidate would acclaim more than attack when discussing past deeds, whereas the opponent would attack more than acclaim for past deeds. <Table 3> showed the expected pattern: Jung Dong Young acclaimed more than attacked for past deeds (25 acclaims to 12 attacks), whereas Lee Myung Bak attacked more than acclaimed for past deeds (7 acclaims to 20 attacks). For example, Jung Dong Young acclaimed that “we have contributed to building the cor-nerstone in order to induce the unification of the Korean pen-insula and to enhance the Korean economy by peacefully sta-bilizing the relationship with North Korea.” On the other hand, Lee Myung Bak pointed to the incumbent president’s past deeds as follows: “people voted for the current president Roh Moo Hyun by expecting people’s better life but their life be-came worse.” The differences by incumbency were significant (χ2 [df＝1]＝10.83, p＝.001), and H3 was supported.
<Table 3> Forms of Policy and Character on South Korean Presidential Blogs Policy Character PD FP GG PQ LA ID AC AT AC AT DF AC AT AC AT DF AC AT AC AT Jung 25 12 63 8 0 154 5 70 118 0 2 0 31 5 Lee 7 20 269 3 1 114 0 39 15 10 5 0 5 0 Total 32 32 332 11 1 268 5 109 133 10 7 0 36 5 64 (9.4%) 344 (50.5%) 273 (40.1%) 252 (84%) 7 (2.3%) 41 (13.7%) PD: past deeds; FP: future plans; GG: general goals; PQ: personal qualities; LA: leadership ability; ID: ideals; AC: acclaims; AT: attacks; and DF: defenses
The next hypothesis predicted that South Korean presidential candidates would discuss general goals more to acclaim than to attack. Both candidates overwhelmingly used general goals to acclaim more than to attack (268 to 5). A one-way χ2 test
indicated that the difference was significant (χ2 [df＝1]＝253.37, p <
.0001). Thus, H4 was supported (see <Table 3>).
H5 also expected that South Korean presidential candidates would discuss ideals more to acclaim than to attack. As predicted, the candidates discussed more acclaims than attacks for ideals (36 to 5). The difference was significant at p < .0001 (χ2 [df＝1]＝23.44),
supporting H5 (see <Table 3>).
RQ2 examined the proportions of the three forms of policy on the candidates’ blogs. According to <Table 3>, the most frequent form of
pol-icy concerned future plans (50.5%), followed by general goals (40.1%) and past deeds (9.4%). A one-way χ2 test indicated that the three forms of
policy did not occur with equal frequency (χ2 [df＝2]＝186.67, p < .0001).
That is, candidates mainly discussed future-oriented specific policies or general directions rather than performances in the past. Jung Dong Young discussed more general goals (159 to 114) and less future plans (71 to 273) than his opponent Lee Myung Bak. The statistical differences between the two candidates were significant: general goals (χ2 [df＝1]＝7.42, p <
.01) and future plans (χ2 [df＝1]＝118.62, p < .0001).
RQ3 investigated the proportions of the three forms of character on the candidates’ blogs. As shown in <Table 3>, the most frequent form of character was personal qualities (84%), followed by ideals (13.7%) and leadership ability (2.3%). A one-way χ2 test indicated that the three forms of
character were statistically different in terms of frequency (χ
2 [df＝2]＝352.34, p < .0001). The candidates discussed
over-whelmingly more personal qualities than ideals and leader-ship ability. Especially, Jung Dong Young deployed a domi-nantly negative campaign in discussing personal qualities (70 acclaims and 118 attacks) unlike Lee Myung Bak (39 ac-claims and 15 attacks, and 10 defenses). The functional differ-ences for personal qualities between the two candidates (exclud-ing defenses) were significant at p < .0001 level (χ2 [df＝1]＝
The final research question examined what specific policy issues the candidates emphasized. According to <Table 4>,
Jung Dong Young focused on discussing the relationship with North Korea, foreign policy issues with the other countries, and various other issues, whereas Lee Myung Bak heavily emphasized economic issues, followed by defense and health care issues. The frequency of the discussion of energy/environment issues was similar for the both candidates’ blogs. The results were significant at p < .0001 level (χ2 [df＝6]＝133.25).
<Table 4> Specific Policy Issues on South Korean Presidential Blogs
Economy NorthKorea Foreign Policy Health-care Defense EnvironmentEnergy/ Others Jung 105 (39.3%) 42 (15.7%) 27 (10.1%) 6 (2.2%) 15 (5.6%) 10 (3.7%) 62 (23.2%) Lee 258 (62.3%) 8 (1.9%) 9 (2.2%) 37 (8.9%) 62 (15%) 10 (2.4%) 30 (7.2%) Total 363 (53.3%) 50 (7.3%) 36 (5.3%) 43 (6.3%) 77 (11.3%) 20 (2.9%) 92 (13.5%)
This study examined the functions and topics on the 2007 South Korean presidential campaign blogs by applying the Functional Theory. The findings of this study indicate that Functional Theory applies well to the recent South Korean presidential campaign blogs: All predictions were supported. The findings consistent with the previous literature are summarized as follows: the
candidates discussed acclaims most often, followed by attacks and defenses (H1); the candidates discussed more policy than character (H2); the incumbent party candidate acclaimed more and attacked less than the challenger in the discussion of past deeds (H3); the candidates used more acclaims than attacks for general goals (H4) and ideals (H5). In other words, the presidential candidates followed the typical political discourse patterns on the newly noted online political campaign tool as well as other media channels shown in the literature (e.g., Benoit, 2007). The findings here (overall, more attacks on policy than character) are also consistent with previous research on U.S. presidential blogs (Trammell, 2004).
Based on the consistent findings, this study suggests that following the patterns is generally recommendable to political candidates and their campaign managers. According to Benoit (1999a, 2007), acclaims do not have risks, attacks run the risk of backlash, and defenses have three weaknesses (reminding voters of a problem, appearing reactive, and taking candidates off-message). Thus, following the functional order (acclaims > attacks > defenses) is reasonable for candidates to adopt. Second, policy issues need to be emphasized more than character. Benoit(2003) found that American political candidates who stress policy more, and character less than opponents in their campaign messages are more likely to win elections. Consistent with that finding, the South Korean presidential election winner Lee Myung Bak emphasized policy more (84.8% to 54.2%), and
character less (15.2% to 45.8%) than his opponent Jung Dong Young, who lost the election. Third, utilizing the incumbent president’s past deeds as sources of acclaims or attacks according to the incumbency position is a persuasive appeal strategy. Although the two South Korean candidates did not have their own incumbent official records, the incumbent party candidate still pursued the halo effect by acclaiming the past deeds of the incumbent president and the ruling party, whereas the challenger strategically criticized the visible records. Furthermore, as Benoit (1999a, 2007) would argue, attacking generally desirable goals and ideals would be perceived unnatural by the campaign blog readers, who are likely to be voters. That is, acclaiming general goals and ideals is recommended again in order to minimize risks.
We do want to note that although these data support Functional Theory expectations for how candidates will discuss their records in office (that incumbent party candidates acclaim more, and attack less, on past deeds than challengers), incumbency is a weaker force in South Korean presidential campaigns. Unlike most campaign discourse in the United States and elsewhere (Benoit, 2007), incumbent party candidates in South Korean blogs did not acclaim more, or attack less, overall, compared with challengers. As noted earlier, the South Korean political system makes incumbency a less important factor (presidents are limited to a single term and there is no vice president). Meanwhile, the weak incumbency can result from a historical
context. The presidents since the “democratization (민주화)” in 1987 have become relatively more liberal from the former regimes’ political legacy and requests than the presidents for the military regimes from 1960s to 1980s. Although some regimes partly shared common policies, each president since the democratization showed his own political slant and color. The differentiation which has been possible since the democratization could be another historical reason for the weak incumbency effect in addition to the political system. We do not rule out the possibility.
Second, the two candidates clearly emphasized different policy issues. The liberal incumbent party candidate Jung Dong Young actively discussed the relationship with North Korea, foreign policies with the other countries, and other various issues such as political reforms and human rights, whereas the conservative major opposition party candidate Lee Myung Bak mainly emphasized domestic issues such as economy, defense, and healthcare. This clear issue distinction reminds the author of the issue ownership theory (Petrocik, 1996) although this study did not employ it. Regarding the political campaign messages, the theory predicts that U.S. Republicans and Democrats “emphasize issues on which they have an advantage and about which their opponents are less well regarded” (Petrocik, 1996, p. 825). Some examples of the issue distinction are: crime and national defense for Republicans and environment and education for Democrats (Petrocik, 1996). Like the U. S., the South Korean presidential campaign candidates might have strategically emphasized “issue
ownership” on their campaign blogs.
The findings of the remaining research questions also have practical implications. First, discussing more concrete future plans than abstract general goals in policy utterances could let blog readers (potential voters) favorably perceive that the candidate is prepared in terms of policy issues. The winner, Lee Myung Bak, emphasized more future plans than general goals (273 to 114), where as the loser Jung Dong Young showed exactly the opposite pattern (71 to 159). Of course, policy ut-terances on the blogs do not determine the vote. However, this study suggests that voters would want to see a more concrete policy product than an abstract discourse.
Also, voters might grow tired of a negative campaign strategy, particularly when candidates attack only their opponent’s character rather than their policy products. The loser Jung Dong Young attacked the opponent’s personal qualities repeatedly rather than acclaimed (70 acclaims and 118 attacks), while the winner, Lee Myung Bak, followed the safe functional pattern for personal qualities (39 acclaims > 15 attacks > 10 defenses). As indicated earlier, candidates that use attacks run the risk of being accused of mudslinging (Benoit, 1999a, 2007). Past research on a variety of American presidential campaign messages found that winners tend to attack more on policy, and less on character, than losers (Benoit, 2004). Accordingly, Jung Dong Young’s negative strategy attacking personal qualities does not seem to be desirable.
the specific issues with which the voters are concerned. Notably, the winner Lee Myung Bak emphasized the “economy” issues most frequently (62.3%). Probably, Lee Myung Bak’s policy utterances centering on the economy issues seemed to appeal to voters with his slogan of “the president for economy.” After the election, the opponent Jung Dong Young even said in a radio interview that the candidate, Lee Myung Bak, was elected because people wanted to give vividness to the Korean economy (Choi, 2008). Discussing the issues that people want to see and hear about is reasonably suggested.
This study examined the functions and topics on the South Korean presidential campaign blogs by applying the Functional Theory. The results overall supported the idea that the theory can be extended to the new online campaign tool during the 2007 South Korean presidential campaign. Suggesting the general guidelines for political communication practices, this study also noted the political system allowing only one term, the historical context since the democratization in 1987, and each candidate’s likely campaign strategies as the possible reasons for an exceptional finding regarding the incumbency effect and the findings in research questions. Theoretically, scholars need to note the political system and the historical context as moderating variables
influencing the functional discourse patterns. The authors also believe that the strategic suggestions that this study offers based on the findings will be useful to those who plan to use blogs as online political campaign tools.
However, we do not insist that the blog campaign was entirely influential in the 2007 South Korean presidential campaign. Compared with the 2002 presidential campaign (Rohmoohyun vs. Leehoichang), 2007 online presidential campaign’s influence was limited. Candidates also actively utilized their official homepages, fan club websites, and portal websites as online presidential campaign tools. Thus, we acknowledge that the influence of campaign on presidential blogosphere would be partial and limited. Probably, the comparison of functional discourse in different online media, such as Web sites vs. blogs, will offer a more comprehensive perspective about whether there is a unified or differentiated functional campaign strategy.
Also, future studies can consider a functional comparison in both online campaigns and offline campaigns because the target audience could be different. Offline campaigns appeal to unspecified publics, whereas blog visitors could be mostly supporters for the candidates. Considering the possibly different target audiences, the functional purposes in the different space could be partially different.
Third, although this study analyzed the two major candidates’ functional discourse on their blogs, this study did not analyze the other minor candidates’ blogs in the South Korean presidential
campaign. To fully capture the nature of political discourse, analyzing the underdogs’ blogs is needed.
Another future research suggestion is to compare culturally different countries’ presidential blogs in terms of functional discourse. Through the studies, scholars can diagnose the extent of the influence of environmental factors on the different political systems. Indeed, the upstart new media raise many intellectual curiosities and offer many opportunities for studying functional discourse in political campaigns.
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논문 최초 투고일 2009년 1월 15일 논문 게재 확정일 2009년 2월 20일
Appendix: Acclaims and Attacks on the Forms of Policy and Character
Acclaim on Past Deed: “The incumbent government showed efforts to disconnect the bad connection between the government and companies and to clean the society.” (Jung Dong Young)
Attack on Past Deed: “I think a more serious problem hap-pened during the president Roh Moo Hyun’s term of office. It is the very birth rate at the lowest level in the world.” (Lee Myung Bak)
Acclaim on Future Plan: “We need the Korean peninsula canal, a grand national business like the New Deal, in order to get over economic depression and give vividness to the economy.” (Lee Myung Bak)
Attack on Future Plan: “(Due to the collision of ships) oil is now pouring down on the sea, which is an environmental disaster. If the candidate Lee Myung Bak digs a canal and an accident happens, oil will worsen the problem in the canal. I thought that the canal policy needs to be reconsidered.” (Jung Dong Young)
Acclaim on General Goal: “Let’s give vividness to the Korean economy.” (Lee Myung Bak)
Attack on General Goal: “Changes should be good. Bad changes (by them) should not be performed.” (Jung Dong Young)
Acclaim on Personal Qualities: “Jung Dong Young has an innocent mind. He is a man of passion and honesty.” (Jung Dong Young)
Attack on Personal Qualities: “Voting for the lying candidate should be the worst choice.” (Jung Dong Young)
Acclaim on Leadership Ability: “I was the CEO of a large company for 20 years and the Seoul mayor for 4 years. …The world has admitted me as a global leader.” (Lee Myung Bak)
Attack on Leadership Ability: (did not occur in these texts) Acclaim on Ideals: “The role of a country is not to suppress individuals but to help individuals come true their dreams.” (Lee Myung Bak)
Attack on Ideals: “This election is a competition between the future-oriented democratic group and the corrupted conservatism alliance.” (Jung Dong Young)
년 한국 대통령 선거 후보 블로그 캠페인의
기능적 담론 분석황 성 욱 명지대학교 디지털미디어학과 조교수 윌리엄 베노이트 미주리대학교 커뮤니케이션학과 교수 본 연구는 2007년 한국 대통령선거 캠페인 기간 중 대통합 민 주신당과 한나라당의 두 후보 블로그 담론의 기능과 주제를 내용 분석하였다. 주요 결과는 다음과 같다. 후보들의 담론 기능의 빈도 는 주장, 공격, 방어의 순으로 관찰되었다. 후보들은 인물보다 정 책에 대해 더 자주 토론하였다. 과거 행동을 언급할 때 여당 정동 영 후보는 후광효과를 의식한 듯 도전자 이명박 후보보다 주장의 담론을 더 많이 보여주었고, 공격의 담론을 덜 사용하였다. 후보들 은 또한 공통적으로 일반목표 그리고 이상의 주제를 다룰 때 대체 로 긍정적인 주장의 전략을 선택하였다. 이러한 발견들은 베노이 트의 기능이론을 적용한 많은 기존의 기능이론 연구들에서 관찰 된 바 있다. 그 일치성을 바탕으로 저자들은 한국 대선기간 동안 의 새로운 뉴미디어 정치 캠페인 공간인 블로그 커뮤니케이션으 로의 기능이론의 확장이라는 함의를 제공한다. 가설을 지지하는 발견들 그리고 일부 예외적인 결과들을 중심으로 더욱 구체적인
이론적, 실용적 암시점들이 토론되었다.